SOCHI (AFP) - Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton bounced back to top the times in Friday's second free practice session ahead of this weekend's inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old Briton, who was second fastest behind his Mercedes team-mate and title rival German Nico Rosberg in the morning's opening session, wound up quickest in the afternoon with a dazzling lap in 1min 39.630sec. He leads Rosberg by 10 points with four races remaining.
This was eight-tenths of a second faster than the chasing pack led by Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen of McLaren and made Hamilton the only man to go below the 1:40 barrier at the newly built track in the Olympic Park close to the Black Sea resort.
Two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso was third for Ferrari ahead of Rosberg, Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Briton Jenson Button in the second McLaren.
Five days after Jules Bianchi's shocking accident at the rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix, where he suffered severe head injuries when his Marussia car collided with a recovery vehicle, all of the drivers wore "Tous Avec Jules" (All With Jules) stickers on their helmets in support of the absent Frenchman.
The 25-year-old remained in intensive care in hospital in Yokkaichi and his Marussia team chose not to run a second driver in his place at Sochi in a sign of respect as he battles for his life in Japan.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had described last Sunday's Japanese event as "the worst race of my life", was seventh in the second Williams ahead of Red Bull-bound local hero Russian Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso and the man he is due to replace, four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel.
Job-hunting Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was 10th for Toro Rosso, turning in another impressive day's work as he seeks a new seat for 2015 after being released by his current outfit.