Nico Rosberg has taken pole position for the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom, having had no real competition after his team mate Lewis Hamilton was eliminated with a power unit problem. Williams' Valtteri Bottas will start from second place on the grid, ahead of Raikkonen.
With conditions still very similar to Friday, qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix went underway with gutsy winds and on a track the offers little grip.
Both Sauber were among the first to take to the track, joined by a large number drivers who looked set to need several attempts to get into Q1. Both Mercedes cars waited a few more minutes but jumped atop the timesheet on their first attempts. Both went on to do several slower lap before completing another flyer.
Both Williams set their first times with 8 minutes left on the clock, while Ferrari waited another few minutes to get out, resulting in times around a second off of the Mercedes while Williams's drivers both were at 1.7s of Hamilton's pace setting lap. Raikkonen left it that single attempt in Q1 while Vettel went on to complete another lap, closing his gap to the silver arrows to 0.6 seconds.
All things considered, there were no surprises at the end of Q1, with both Saubers, both Manors and both Renaults eliminated.
In Q2, Rosberg and Hamilton were out among the first, but this time only to take the time to get their tyres up to temperature. While Perez set a 1:37.282 on his first lap, Rosberg and Hamilton were more than 14 seconds off that pace, followed by laps that shot them both to 1st and 2nd places. Rosberg's time in particular was eye catching, completing a lap around the Sochi Autodrom in 1:35.337, the fastest so far this weekend.
With the super softs lasting fairly long at Sochi, Q2 turned out to be busy until the very end, with 1 minute from the end only the Ferraris and Mercedes stood in the garages. A large number of lap improvements in the closing seconds were the result, with McLaren once again unable to make it into Q3. Button came close nonetheless, but was eliminated along with Sainz, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Grosjean and Gutierrez.
Just when that session finished, qualifying was over for Hamilton as well, as the team found a recurrence of the power unit problem that hampered him in China.
This essentially left Rosberg without any competition to take pole position for the Russian Grand Prix, something which he comfortably did, despite a large lockup on his second set of tyres, following which he returned to the pits to see the rest fight it out for second place.
Vettel eventually was second fastest, but as he incurred a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Valtteri Bottas start from the front row of the grid. On the second row will be Raikkonen and Massa.
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:38.091||1:37.569||1:37.125||22|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:38.006||1:37.282||1:37.212||20|
|8||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:38.265||1:37.606||1:37.459||22|
|9||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:38.123||1:37.510||1:37.583||20|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:37.784||1:37.652||-||14|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:38.562||1:37.771||-||17|