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Ferrari has sent out a warning signal to rivals Mercedes that it has no intention of letting up the pressure in their burgeoning F1 title battle after Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen set a fierce pace in the second free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Using the ultra-soft tyres, Vettel and Raikkonen were able to extract impressive performance over multiple laps around the Sochi Autodrom, with the German's 1m 34.120secs effort topping the timesheets, two tenths up on his team-mate.

Ferrari's fine form comes around a circuit that was originally touted as better suited to Mercedes having dominated in Sochi for the last three seasons, while it comes into this race having been a comfortable pole sitter for each of the opening three rounds for the 2017 F1 season.

However, over a single lap today it was Ferrari that would come out on top over its rivals, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton around seven tenths adrift in third and fourth respectively, neither getting a clean run on their ultra-soft laps but appearing to struggle relative to their rivals.

Red Bull followed up in a distant fifth and sixth, Max Verstappen leading Daniel Ricciardo but seeing his session ended early by a technical problem that parked him with just under 30mins to go.

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With Red Bull commanding their own comfortable three tenths margin back to Felipe Massa in seventh place, Nico Hulkenberg, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez made it seven different teams inside the top ten.

Indeed, despite the wide margins between the leaders, the mid-field is considerably tighter with little more than a second splitting seventh down to 18th position.

Amidst this Fernando Alonso hauled the McLaren-Honda up to 12th position, ahead of Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman complaining of ongoing brake problems on the Haas - despite the much publicised change of supplier - as he suffered a spin at the final corner.

Home hope Daniil Kvyat also suffered a turn around at Turn 13 on his way to 17th best, the Toro Rossos struggling down the order and sandwiching Stoffel Vandoorne, who got some much needed mileage on the board after incurring 15 positions worth of grid penalties in FP1.=

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