Rosberg takes pole for Russian Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg has secured pole position for the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, dominating qualifying throughout the sessions. Lewis Hamilton ended up in second with Valtteri Bottas settling for third.
Qualifying was, just like FP3, kicked off quickly by a lot of action on track as little useful running had been possible earlier in the weekend.
Halfway into the session, the Mercedes both set times, with Rosberg going fastest, even though saying over the radio it was a fairly scrappy lap in which he "certainly lost several tenths". Lewis Hamilton was two tenths slower than his teammate.
As the session progressed, more and more drivers switched to the super soft tyres, even though both Mercedes stuck to the softs, eventually still ending up fastest and third fastest. Only Valtteri Bottas managed to get in between the two on the timing sheet.
Further towards the back, Sainz didn't compete in qualifying due to his accident in FP3, but apart from him, Alonso, Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi got eliminated. Alonso however will start from the back of the grid anyway due to engine penalties.
In Q2, Hamilton and Rosberg were again out quickly, along with the Force India and Red Bull cars. Williams and Ferrari on the other hand were waiting in their garages, hoping for improving conditions as the track rubbers in.
Mercedes this time around chose the super soft immediately, opting to have both its drivers complete a quick lap, followed by a slower one and then another quick lap. It's common practice in case the tyres are not limiting, simply because it allows to start each quick lap with a higher amount of energy stored in the batteries.
3 minutes from the end, Bottas went third fastest, 7 tenths down on Rosberg. Vettel settled into 4th, another 2 tenths further down with Raikkonen in 5th. Both Ferrari drivers appeared to struggle with their cars during those laps, repeatedly correcting oversteer.
The second Williams however got eliminated as Massa failed to get a strong lap in. In fact, he was only 15th fastest, a tenth down on Maldonado in 14th. Max Verstappen narrowly made it through, but behind him were home driver Kvyat, Nasr and Button who all got eliminated.
In Q3, the drivers are aiming for the second flying lap as it seems the drop in temperature has made it more difficult to get the tyres up to working temperature.
As Rosberg set the fastest lap on his first run, Grosjean, Ricciardo and Verstappen haven't come out yet and all aimed for a single go in the final part of qualifying.
After those first laps, unlike the Ferraris, both Mercedes drivers have stayed out on their current tyres for another run. And Rosberg has gone even quicker in the first sector but both men lose time in the middle sector. In fact, Hamilton pitted before completing his lap, following a moment midway through the lap. With time running out, that's an wrap for Rosberg, securing a somewhat surprising pole after getting used to Hamilton topping qualifying.
|6||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:38.659||21|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:38.691||19|
|9||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:38.924||23|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:39.728||18|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:39.214||18|
Merhi penalised 20 places for unscheduled ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H changes.