Fernando Alonso says he was "surprised" by just how much grip there was on Friday in opening practice for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

Alonso made his usual strong start to the weekend, posting the fourth quickest time in opening practice this morning. He then went third in the afternoon, 0.038 seconds up on Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and only 0.010 seconds off Kevin Magnussen's McLaren in P2.

Reflecting on the day he said he felt "comfortable" right from the off and was also very pleased with the turnout at the circuit.

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"The track is very unusual and I didn't think that Formula 1 had already got such a large following here," said the Ferrari pilot.

"Also surprising today was the good level of grip from the track surface, which is unusual on a brand new circuit. From this point of view, I felt comfortable right from the first lap and that helped a lot when it came to today's most important job, namely learning the track.

"We worked a lot on set-up and found the two compounds had behaved in similar fashion and tyre performance improved as the laps went by.

Meanwhile, he added that his only worry was on the brake front.

"The track is very hard on brakes, but that is a specific thing we can work on this evening to be well prepared for qualifying," he explained.