Ferrari have confirmed their strong pace so far this weekend by qualifying first and second for tomorrow's Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom. As Vettel took a close pole position ahead of Raikkonen, Mercedes drivers Bottas and Hamilton will have to be happy with starting from behind the scarlet cars.
Qualifying kicked off with both Toro Rosso drivers venturing out on track as soon as the session was started. Many more followed rapidly, with the usual suspects soon ending up at the bottom of the timesheets. Among them of course Sauber and McLaren, but also the Haas drivers.
All but Ferrari immediately opted for the ultra softs. The Scuderia chose super softs for their first runs, ending up around three tenths down on the Mercedes duo led by Vatteri Bottas.
The end of Q1 brought some surprises nonetheless. At a moment when Perez and Alonso had just completed their second flying laps, Wehrlein spun his Sauber and Palmer bumped onto a sausage kerb on the inside of the final corner, ending up losing control of his Renault and going backwards into the tyre barriers. Cars coming up behind them were obviously unable to post an improved time and sealing the positions as they were.
In the second part, Mercedes were out immediately, settings times that would eventually prove extremely competitive with Ferrari. Mercedes were initially quicker, but towards the end, Raikkonen still did another run on ultra softs to displace Hamilton.
Of the front runners, there is little more to be told regarding Q2, but it's worth nothing that cars 11 to 14 were all within 1 tenths off of each other. Fernando Alonso qualified in 15th, 6 tenths down on Magnussen in 14th.
The final section of qualifying turned out as an interesting shootout between Ferrari and Mercedes. The first runs saw Raikkonen go fastest, 0.036s faster than Bottas and 0.173s faster than Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was more than a second down, but still easily fourth as Ricciardo and Verstappen were both several tenths further behind, thanks to their lack of downforce and power, costing them both on straights and in corners.
The second outing was tense and closely faught, with Raikkonen losing out due to being unable to improve on his earlier time. Vettel did however, and topped his team mate by 0.059s. Lewis Hamilton managed to improve 6 tenths, but still ended up 4th, half a second down on his own team mate.
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:35.560||1:35.483||1:34.905||20|
|6||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:35.828||1:35.049||1:35.110||20|
|7||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:35.301||1:35.221||1:35.161||18|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:36.185||1:35.513||1:35.337||18|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:35.372||1:35.729||1:35.430||20|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:35.827||1:35.948||-||18|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:36.279||1:35.964||-||18|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:35.984||1:35.968||-||18|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:36.408||1:36.017||-||16|
|15||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:36.353||1:36.660||-||14|
|17||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1:37.070||-||-||9|
|18||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.332||-||-||9|
|19||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.507||-||-||9|
|20||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:37.620||-||-||9|