For the first time since 2008, Scuderia Ferrari have locked out the front row this weekend at the 2017 Russian GP in Sochi, with Sebastian Vettel snatching pole from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by a mere 0.05 seconds.
Photo : The Sun
Amidst suspicions of Mercedes sandbagging, Ferrari dominated the timing charts all the way through free practice. Mercedes topped in Q1 and Q2 finding their secret “go faster” button once again, but come Q3, Ferrari came through on top.
Kimi set the pace in Q3, and was going even faster on his final run. An unfortunate last corner moment meant that he dropped four tenths and couldn’t improve on his provisional pole time.
Bottas came through with a time good enough only for P3, but it was Sebastian Vettel who took pole for the Scuderia with a pole time of 1:33:194.
Lewis Hamilton, however, was nowhere to be seen. Constant mistakes in FP3 and in qualifying meant that he never really strung together a classic Lewis lap. His fastest lap was only good enough for P4.
It was a strong showing by Felipe baby in the Williams as he qualified P6, proving to be a threat to the Red Bulls by splitting Ricciardo in P5 and Verstappen in P7.
Another solid qualifying performance by Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault meant that he qualified P8, with both the Force Indias rounding off the top 10 – the first time they’ve both slotted into the top 10 this season.
Starting outside the top 10 with a free choice of tyres is Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso (will have a 3 place grid penalty for the race) with his team-mate and local boy Daniil Kyvat in P13, as Massa’s team-mate Lance Stroll could only manage P12 following a mistake in sector 2 on his fast lap.
In P14 was the Haas of Kevin Magnussen with Fernando Alonso behind him. Fernando hauled the underpowered McLaren up into Q2 yet again, but that’s all he could manage. “We’re dropping 3 seconds on the straights!”, Alonso exclaimed.
Barely missing out in Q1 was the Renault of Jolyon Palmer who put his car in the wall following a chassis change last night and an engine change this afternoon. P17 and P18 were claimed by the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericcson.
Romain Grosjean starts in a lowly P19 after his fast lap was impeded by yellow flags brought out by Palmer in the wall. Stoffel Vandoorne will line up in P20 and last in his McLaren given his 15 place engine penalty.
Photo : Formula 1
So that is how the drivers shall line up for the 2017 F1 Russian Grand Prix tomorrow. Should be a cracker. Although it didn’t look like it, I’m convinced that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton will be very much in the fight tomorrow.
And I’d like to see Kimi on the podium tomorrow, as I said in my video preview (Watch it here : Video preview – Russian GP). He’s turned up this weekend, solid in free practice, on the front row, almost secured pole – he’s looking good.
I shall see you on Monday with a video review via YouTube. Have a good #RussianGP.
Feature image : motorsport.com
– Aditya Bhat.