Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole position

Russian GP 2014 qualifying

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his seventh pole position of the season at the brand new Sochi Autodrome circuit.

Hamilton outpaced his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg by two tenths of a second while Valtteri Bottas was a contender for pole.

The Williams driver set the fastest sector times of all in the first two sectors, but the rear stepped out at the final corner and he ran wide, which cost him any chance of beating the Silver Arrows and left him in third position.

McLaren pairing Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen continued the strong form for the Woking-based team in fourth and sixth place.

In between them is the star of qualifying and home crowd favourite Daniil Kvyat, who qualified a career-best fifth after a strong performance in the Toro Rosso.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh on a weekend of damage limitation for Red Bull, ahead of the  Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Jean-Eric Vergne, was slowest in Q3 and qualified tenth.

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel was eliminated in Q2, his final lap only good enough to take P11, 0.123 seconds slower than his Red Bull stablemate Vergne.

Vettel did not report any specific car problems, although he had been struggling with the balance of his RB10.

Just behind were the Force Indias, with Nico Hulkenberg narrowly ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez.

Esteban Gutierrez won the intra-Sauber battle, over four tenths faster than team-mate Adrian Sutil. The Mexican doing a good job after sitting out the first practice session in favour of Sergey Sirotkin.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was slowest in Q2, ending up P16.

Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson continued his recent run of good form with P17, fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1.

Ericsson’s final lap allowed him to jump ahead of Williams driver Felipe Massa, who ended up P18.

Massa had looked set to qualify well, but a fuel pressure problem that the team did not have time to fix meant that he was down on power.

Kamui Kobayashi ended up just a tenth off Massa after improving by almost six tenths on his final run for Caterham.

This was enough to put him ahead of Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado, who received an apology over the radio for what was described as a “shambles” after a problem delayed him.

He has to serve a five-place grid penalty anyway, a consequence of using his sixth engine during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, so will drop to last.

Max Chilton in the sole Marussia was P21, just over four tenths slower than Maldonado.

Qualifying positions, Russian Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m38.513s
2 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m38.713s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.920s
4 Jenson Button    McLaren-Mercedes    1m39.121s
5 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m39.277s
6 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.635s
7 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari    1m39.709s
8 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m39.771s
9 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m40.020s
10 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault    1m40.052s
11 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes    1m39.629s*
12 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.163s
13 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    1m40.536s
14 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    1m40.984s
15 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault    1m41.397s
16 Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault    1m42.648s
17 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.058s*
18 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m43.064s
19 Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault    1m43.166s
20 Max Chilton    Marussia-Ferrari    1m43.649s
21 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    1m43.205s*

*Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Maldonado have had five-place penalties applied

3 thoughts to “Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole position”

  1. Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel had a nightmare qualifying session at Sochi. The Red Bull Racing driver was left feeling puzzled with no clear reason for the poor performance. Autosport.com has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel said there was no obvious reason why his Red Bull Formula 1 team proved so uncompetitive in Russian Grand Prix qualifying, after failing to reach Q3 at Sochi.

    After a difficult Friday, Red Bull looked in slightly better shape in final practice, only to lose ground again in qualifying – where Vettel only managed 11th and his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was seventh. Both will gain a place via a penalty for Kevin Magnussen.

    Vettel said there was more to the problem than the Renault power deficit often cited as Red Bull’s shortcoming in 2014.

    “We knew that it would be difficult in general for us here with the amount of straights, but equally there are a lot of corners – especially in sector two and three,” he said.

    “I think we made a big step forward this morning, but I wasn’t able to take that forward into qualifying.

    “Generally the car felt OK. Obviously it didn’t in qualifying, but this morning we were fairly happy and yesterday didn’t feel too bad either.”

    The reigning F1 world champion said his car’s performance was getting worse as the qualifying runs went on, contrary to expectations of how the tyres would change.

    “It’s very different here because you stay out on the same set for quite a while because usually tyres are improving,” said Vettel.

    “It wasn’t the case for me. It was getting more and more difficult as the run went on.

    “I think we were just a bit too aggressive. I was struggling with the rear. I couldn’t carry the speed into the corners than I was able to this morning.”

    With one-stop strategies expected for the race and overtaking likely to be tough at Sochi, Vettel doubts he will gain much ground.

    “We qualified around P10 because that’s as quick as we can go,” he said.

    “It would be nice to finish on the podium tomorrow but if nothing special happens and we have consistent conditions, it will be very difficult to make a lot of progress.”

    Red Bull’s run of four consecutive F1 constructors’ championships will end on Sunday unless it can reduce Mercedes’ current 190-point lead to 172 or less going into the final three races.

    Ricciardo, who still retains a remote chance of the drivers’ title as he trails Lewis Hamilton by 73 points with 125 available at present, admitted that Red Bull’s form at Sochi so far meant the constructors’ fight was basically over.

    “If Hamilton wins tomorrow and I stay in seventh, then after that there’s probably not much more we can get out of it,” he said.

    “Even so, it doesn’t stop us trying to do our best every race, but it’s looking like it’s becoming a bit tricky from now.”

  2. The star of qualifying was Daniil Kvyat, but the Toro Rosso driver admitted there was no ‘magic’ behind his fifth place in qualifying. Autosport.com has the details.

    Daniil Kvyat said there was no “magic” behind his Formula 1 career-best qualifying performance as he secured fifth on the grid for his inaugural home grand prix in Russia.

    A week on from being announced as four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel’s 2015 replacement at Red Bull, Kvyat has been competitive throughout the Sochi weekend and beat his previous best grid position of seventh at the Red Bull Ring by two places.

    Asked by AUTOSPORT if that was the best he had driven in 2014, Kvyat replied: “Looking back, at the Red Bull Ring in qualifying, where DRS didn’t work for me on my fast lap, I could have been P5, no doubt.

    “Still, I drove a few good qualifyings this year. Today is probably one of the best in terms of driving, but still it’s not like I found some magic trick today.

    “I was just doing what I was always doing, but we came fifth today.”

    Kvyat said there was no obvious technical reason why he and Toro Rosso were stronger at Sochi.

    “There are many medium speed corners, low speed corners. Honestly until now, I always preferred the high speed tracks, coming here I looked at the configuration and I thought this might be a bit tougher for me,” he said.

    “But in the end it looked like it suits me very well.”

    Though he doubts he can match Mercedes or its pole rival Valtteri Bottas of Williams in the race, Kvyat expects to challenge second-row qualifier Jenson Button.

    “McLaren looks within reach actually, because looking at the lap times we ended up very close together,” he said.

    “Anything can happen, and we just have to make an opportunity tomorrow because it is a great chance.”

    Jean-Eric Vergne was 0.8 seconds and four places behind Kvyat in qualifying in the other Toro Rosso. He said he had an engine issue that cost him between half a second and seven tenths.

    “Considering that it was amazing to get into Q3 and still produce a good lap with the problem,” said Vergne.

  3. The Williams Formula 1 team does not believe Valtteri Bottas could have beaten Lewis Hamilton to pole for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

    The Finn set the fastest first two sector times of all on his final flying lap in qualifying for the first ever F1 race at the Sochi Autodrom, but ran wide through the final corner and failed to improve on his best effort.

    Bottas ended up third on the grid, two tenths adrift of Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, and four tenths shy of pole.

    Williams performance chief Rob Smedley told reporters after the session that top spot would have been beyond his driver, even if he had finished the lap cleanly.

    “I think he could have possibly got on the front row. Lewis’s time was probably a little bit too far away from what we could have achieved,” Smedley said.

    “Had he put that lap together it would have been very close with Nico. He did absolutely the right thing – we had third secured and he just went for it.

    “He took a lot out of the tyres in the first and second sectors – he was three tenths up – and you knew it was going to be difficult in the last sector.

    “He got through most of it alright but then got out of shape in the penultimate corner, which put him off-line, and once you go offline you pick up dirt on your tyres and he wasn’t able to make it around the final corner. He lost all the time there.”

    Smedley suggested Williams had actually produced a more competitive qualifying showing in Russia than when it locked out the front row for the Austrian GP in June.

    “If you look at it purely from a scientific and technical point of view this [track] is quite similar to Austria,” Smedley explained.

    “What we’ve needed here that wasn’t necessary in Austria is a great deal more knowledge about tyre management and how to get them working, [given] the tyres are reasonably conservative for this track.

    “Compared to Austria, we had a front row lockout there, but the Mercedes didn’t really take part in Q3; here the Mercedes took part in Q3 and I think we were even maybe a little bit more competitive with more corners. It’s very encouraging for us.”

    Bottas’s team-mate Felipe Massa dropped out after Q1 thanks to a fuel pressure problem on his FW36.

    The team has elected to change the Brazilian’s engine for Sunday’s race, having been unable to conclusively determine the cause.

    Massa will start the race 18th on the grid.

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