Valtteri Bottas topped free practice two at Sochi with Lewis Hamilton second, with neither Mercedes driver really able to put together a clean lap together.
The Renault of Daniel Ricciardo was third with the two McLarens completing the top five, led by Carlos Sainz, and Sergio Perez in sixth and just half a tenth behind Lando Norris
Bottas struggled in the final sector, getting out of shape on two qualifying runs and dropping four-tenths to Hamilton there, rally-crossing across the line.
However, on Hamilton’s final run he locked up at turn thirteen and only narrowly kept it out of the barriers, while despite is sloppy final sector Bottas went a quarter second clear of his teammate.
Bottas has topped every practice session bar one over the last three races – he was a quarter of a second behind the Hamilton in FP2 at Monza – but failed to take a win at either of the Italian races.
Karun Chandhok released a free practice driver’s championship which had Bottas leading by 50 points, so the question will yet again be whether he can translate this strong practice pace into a race win.
However, Bottas has traditionally ran well at Russia and would be beating Hamilton 2-1 as teammates had he not had to cede position due to team orders in 2018.
Outside the top six, Verstappen continued a disappointing Friday for Red Bull as he spun, and eventually finishing seventh and over a second and a half behind Bottas.
Charles Leclerc was just four thousandths further back – albeit on soft tyres compared to Verstappen’s medium effort – and his teammate Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top ten.
Esteban Ocon split the Ferraris, while Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon were the two notable absentees from the top half.
After crashing in FP1 Latifi missed the start of the afternoon session but was able to complete 30 laps over the session in a good bounceback, and the Canadian placed 15th and ahead of George Russell.