Ricciardo to start Russian GP from bottom

Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen will start Sunday's Russian Grand Prix at the back of the grid after being penalised for exceeding the engine change limit.

The pair finished Friday's practice in the top four but then were sanctioned after it emerged the team switched engines more than three times in the session at Sochi's 5.8km Olympic Park circuit on Friday.

Starting from the bottom: Daniel Ricciardo.

Starting from the bottom: Daniel Ricciardo.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton led the way as Mercedes ended practice with a dominant one-two on the timesheets while Ferrari struggled.

The Briton, 40 points clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with six races remaining, posted a best time of one minute 33.385 seconds on the hypersoft tyres.

Vettel ended up only fifth-fastest, in 1:33.928, behind the two Red Bulls driven by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. His Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen was sixth.

The grid penalty is a fresh blow for Ricciardo, who had sat out much of the morning with mechanics working on his car, after his season looked to be getting back on track after his sixth place finish in Singapore two weeks ago.

This is the fifth time in his past eight events that the 29-year-old, on the move to Renault for next season, has been hampered by mechanical issues.

The West Australian also had to start at the rear of the grid at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in August due to penalties for swapping to a new engine power unit.

After 21 events this season Ricciardo is 155 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton with just six events remaining.

Second-placed Vettel is also running out of time to rein in Hamilton, who has seven victories to his name this season, including four of the last five.

Mercedes have won every Russian Grand Prix since the first in 2014, with Hamilton twice victorious and team mate Valtteri Bottas winning last year after now-retired Nico Rosberg in 2016.


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