With Ferrari coming out on top in first, second, and third practice, Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Russian Grand Prix. With Kimi Raikkonen qualifying alongside Vettel in second place, this marks Ferrari’s first front row lockout since the 2008 French Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas qualified in third place for Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel Claims 47th Pole Position in Russia
The first session of qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix was topped by the two Mercedes cars of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, marking the first time this weekend that a Mercedes has been fastest in a session. Qualifying 1 marked the exit of five drivers from qualifying, with only 15 cars progressing through to the next session. Starting in 16th place for the Russian Grand Prix will be Jolyon Palmer for Renault. Despite having limited running throughout the weekend, Palmer spent much of the session inside the top 15, however, was pushed into 16th place after drivers around him started to improve. Aiming to improve his lap and progress to the next session, Palmer then took too much kerb on his final lap, causing him to spin and hit the wall, bringing out yellow flags and effectively ending the session. Also out of the session was Stoffel Vandoorne, with the McLaren driver qualifying in 17th place. Through a 15 place grid penalty however, he will start at the back of the field. Also elimintaed from the session were the two Sauber cars of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, qualifying in 18th and 19th. Rounding out the session was Romain Grosjean for Haas F1, who was eliminated from Q1 for the second time in four races.
In Qualifying 2, Mercedes were once again the pacesetters, with Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest lap of the session. Five more drivers were eliminated in this session, narrowing down the field to ten drivers for the final session in qualifying. Carlos Sainz Jr narrowly missed out on a place in Qualifying 3 for Toro Rosso, qualifying in 11th. Sainz faces a three place grid drop this weekend for his accident with Lance Stroll at the Bahrain Grand Prix, meaning that he will start the race in 14th place. Stroll was also eliminated from the session, qualifying in 12th place for Williams. Also eliminated from qualifying was Daniil Kvyat at his home race, qualifying down in 13th place. Kevin Magnussen was also eliminated from the session, qualifying in 14th place. Rounding out the session was Fernando Alonso for McLaren, with the two time World Champion qualifying down in 15th place.
In the final session of qualifying, the battle for pole position began to shape up between Mercedes and Ferrari, with both of the teams looking evenly matched in terms of performance. After the first runs of the session, it was Kimi Raikkonen who was on provisional pole position, leading the session by the end of the first half with Mercedes being unable to challenge. Ten drivers then took to the track for their final runs of qualifying. In his final lap of the session, Raikkonen was going faster but over drove the Ferrari going into the final corner, meaning that he didn’t improve but still held onto first place until Vettel finished his final lap, moving into pole position. With Sebastian Vettel on pole for the time being, all eyes were then on Mercedes to see what they could do in the session and if they could challenge Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas then crossed the line but the time he set was only good enough for third place. Lewis Hamilton was the final Mercedes to cross the line and was the only driver who could challenge Vettel for pole, however, after being unable to string up a fast enough lap, Hamilton only managed fourth place, thus handing pole to Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo was then the best of the rest, qualifying in fifth place for Red Bull Racing. Felipe Massa qualified in sixth place for Williams, splitting the two Red Bulls with Max Verstappen qualifying in seventh place. Nico Hulkenberg qualified in eighth place for Renault and outqualified his old team, with he two Force India cars of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon qualifying in ninth and tenth place.
With qualifying over and Sebastian Vettel on pole position, the Russian Grand Prix is shaping up to be a a close battle between Ferrari and Mercedes. The question of who will win the Russian Grand Prix is a difficult one due to the similar performance of F1’s two top teams and it will be intriguing to see how the race will unfold. Further down the grid, it will also be interesting to see battles unfold between teams, with the midfield this season being very close in terms of performance.
Qualifying results for the Russian Grand Prix:
- Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:33.194
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:33.253
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:33.289
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:33.767
- Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:34.905
- Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:35.110
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:35.161
- Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:35.285
- Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:35.337
- Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:35.430
- Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:35.948 (Q2 Penalty: +3)
- Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:35.964 (Q2)
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:35.968 (Q2)
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 1:36.017 (Q2)
- Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:36.660 (Q2)
- Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:36.462 (Q1)
- Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:37.070 (Q1 Penalty +15)
- Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 1:37.332 (Q1)
- Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:37.507 (Q1)
- Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:37.620 (Q1)