The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel has qualified in pole position in Russia, with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen making a Ferrari front row lock out, the first for Ferrari since 2008 and the first race this season without a Mercedes at the front.
Before qualifying had even started there were 2 drivers on the grid who had already been handed penalties, Sainz with a 3 place penalty carried over from Bahrain and Vandoorne with 15 places for another new engine for the Mclaren.
At his home race, the Toro Rosso of Kvyat was first out on track when the red lights went out at the beginning of Q1 wearing a set of purple walled ultra-soft tyres. Most drivers took to the track with ultra-soft tyres with the exception of the Ferraris, who fitted the red walled super soft tyres. With 8 and a half minutes left of the session, Bottas was top of the time sheets with the Ferraris not far behind.
Elsewhere on the time sheets, there had been no lap time set by the Williams of Massa or the Mercedes of Hamilton after he aborted a scruffy flying lap. When he eventually left the pits, Massa managed to put his Williams into 6th on the time sheets even whilst he encountered traffic on his flying lap.
In the dying minutes of the session, Fernando Alonso managed to get the under-powered McLaren through to Q2 just before Palmer and Wehrlein caused some trouble with yellow flags in the final seconds before the chequered flag was waved. Wehrlein spun in the final sector of the track, whilst Palmer clipped the kerb sending his of course into the barrier nose first at the 4th corner.
The Haas of Grosjean had struggled for pace all session, got caught out with the yellow flags in the final seconds, unable to improve his time, he finished in 20th on the grid but will start 19th due to Vandoorne’s penalty.
Q2 was relatively quiet with the Mercedes turning up the engines to show the Ferraris they have the pace for the front row, with Bottas topping the time sheets with Hamilton close behind with all times now being set on ultra-soft tyres. Both Ferraris made a surprise trip out back on track nearing the end of the session with Raikkonen ending the sessions splitting the Mercedes after Vettel made a mistake in the last sector to stop any improvements on lap times he was set to make.
Perez made a very late appearance in Q2 starting his first flying lap with around 1 minute to go left of the session, but delivered a clean flying lap to pop up in 9th and get the Force India through to Q3. His team mate Ocon, managed to make it through to Q3 for the first time in his Force India, after Stroll made a mistake during the last sector meaning he was unable to improve his time.
The Mercedes were first out on track in Q3 with Hamilton getting rather close the the Renault of Hulkenberg as the both fought for track position and clear air to get their flying laps under way. Bottas and Hamilton both abandoned their first flying laps to let Hulkenberg through to start clean flying laps. In the meantime, both Ferraris had put in laps 2 seconds faster than the final times in Q2 to top the timing sheets.
With the chequered flag in site, all cars were out on track trying to improve lap times and grab that extra position closer to the front. Raikkonen was first to cross the line in pole position unable to improve his time after running wide on the final corner. Vettel was close behind Raikkonen on track but was up on the Finn’s times in sector 1 and managed to snatch pole position from him by 0.059 seconds. It was a short wait for Vettel whilst he waited for Bottas and Hamilton to cross the line, but neither were able to improve their times securing 3rd and 4th on the grid.
Massa made a surprise late charge by splitting the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen to start 6th on the grid for tomorrow’s race, with a Renault and the 2 Force India’s closing out the top ten.
Can the Mercedes drivers jump the Ferraris in the opening corners of tomorrow’s race or will it come down to their strategy by attempting to pass the Ferraris in the pit stop phases of the race?
Tune in for what looks set to be an exciting race between the two heavyweights of Formula 1 at 1pm tomorrow.
Russian GP Qualifying Results
1 Vettel 1:33.194
2 Raikkonen 1:33.253
3 Bottas 1:33.289
4 Hamilton 1:33.767
5 Ricciardo 1:34.905
6 Massa 1:35.110
7 Verstappen 1:35.161
8 Hulkenberg 1:35.285
9 Perez 1:35.337
10 Ocon 1:35.430
Knocked out in Q2
11 Sainz 1:35.948 – 3 place penalty, will start 14th
12 Stroll 1:35.964
13 Kvyat 1:35.968
14 Magnussen 1:36.017
15 Alonso 1:36.660
Knocked out in Q1
16 Palmer 1:36.462
17 Vandoorne 1:37.070 – 15 place penalty, will start 20th
18 Wehrlein 1:37.332
19 Ericsson 1:37.507
20 Grosjean 1:37.620
Feature Image Credit: Scudaria Ferrari Press Release