Vettel leads Ferrari front row lock out since 2008

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel claimed Scuderia Ferrari’s first pole position of the 2017 Formula 1 season, as both he and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen defeated the Mercedes drivers in a competitive Russian Grand Prix qualifying battle.

Ferrari had led the way throughout the three practice sessions, but trailed rival Mercedes through Q1 and Q2, when both Vettel and Raikkonen made an extra run compared to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the latter segment.

And yet Scuderia turned things around in Q3, when Raikkonen sat on provisional pole after the initial runs, just ahead of Bottas and Vettel, with Hamilton trailing in fourth position after twice snatching the inside front brake on his hot lap.

The Iceman looked set to claim his first pole since the French Grand Prix of 2008, which was coincidently the last race Ferrari locked out the front row, but went wide at the final corner on his last lap so failed to improve.

That allowed Sebastian to snatch pole by just 0.059 seconds with a last-gasp effort of one minute, 33.194 seconds.

Bottas also failed to find time on his final qualifying run, but his earlier lap was still good enough for third position on the grid, just 0.036 seconds adrift of Raikkonen – albeit slower than he went in Q2.

Hamilton’s first run in Q3 was compromised by a track position with Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. Hamilton improved on his final run, but dropped a lot of time in the final sector and ended up almost half a second slower than his team-mate Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull, but over a second slower than Hamilton, while Felipe Massa scored a sixth for Williams, just 0.051 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen.

Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault, just over a tenth further back, while the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

Both Force Indias made Q3 for the first time this season, with Ocon claiming the final spot in the top ten shootout by 0.219 seconds from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, who complained of a “very strange” lack of grip on his final set of tyres.

The Williams of Lance Stroll split Sainz from his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat, as all three drivers lapped within 0.020 seconds of each other.

Kevin Magnussen’s Haas was less than half a tenth further back inP14, well clear of the underpowered McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso, who maintained his remarkable record of getting McLaren-Honda into Q2 at every race so far this season.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer missed the cut by less than a tenth, but had already failed to improve on his final run before crashing heavily at Turn 4 after clipping the inside kerb.

Stoffel Vandoorne, who will start last after a grid penalty, found time on his final run but it was nowhere near enough to escape Q1. His time was only P17 fastest and six tenths away from the Q2 cut off.

Pascal Wehrlein was P18 for Sauber and was lucky to survive a spin unscathed at Turn 13 at the end of Q1.

Team-mate Marcus Ericsson was just under two tenths further back, while Romain Grosjean’s Haas brought up the rear of the grid.

Grosjean struggled with the brakes and balance of his car throughout free practice, and was also unhappy at the start of qualifying, but was on a better lap before Palmer’s crash.

So a fantastic result for Ferrari after so many countless Grands Prix. An all-red front row thanks to the talent of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. It’s going to be interesting to see who will win the Scuderia battle on race day at Sochi. Game on.

Qualifying positions, Russian Grand Prix:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.194s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m33.253s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m33.289s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m33.767s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m34.905s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m35.110s
7    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.161s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m35.285s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m35.337s
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m35.430s
11    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m35.964s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.968s
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m36.017s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.948s
15    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m36.660s
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m36.462s
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m37.332s
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m37.507s
19    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m37.620s
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m37.070s*

*Grid penalty for changing power unit

7 thoughts on “Vettel leads Ferrari front row lock out since 2008

  1. Russian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    The 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix will see an all-Ferrari front row for the first time since France 2008, after Sebastian Vettel edged team mate Kimi Raikkonen for pole position in an epic qualifying battle with Mercedes in Sochi on Saturday.

    Less than a tenth of a second covered the two scarlet cars and the third-place silver one of Valtteri Bottas, who – as in practice – had the edge on team mate Lewis Hamilton in fourth. No other teams could come close, with Daniel Ricciardo a distant fifth for Red Bull.

    Felipe Massa put Williams sixth, ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

    Q1 belonged to Mercedes, with Bottas turning a 1m 34.041s and Hamilton, after a false start due to a twitch in Turns 8 and 9 on his first go eventually improving to 1m 34.409s. The Ferraris were close behind with 1m 34.493s for Vettel and 1m 34.953s for Raikkonen. Impressively, Ocon was sixth behind Verstappen and ahead of late improvers Hulkenberg and Ricciardo.

    But… the Ferraris were on Pirelli’s supersoft tyress, whereas everyone else plumped for ultrasofts…

    Jolyon Palmer’s chances of getting through were ruined when he got over the kerb in Turn 4, and then found his Renault spat into the outside wall. He was thus stranded in 16th on 1m 36.462s, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne on 1m 37.070s in the second McLaren, the two Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson on 1m 37.332s and 1m 37.597s, and a very unhappy Romain Grosjean at the back on 1m 37.620s for Haas. Wehrlein also went off right at the end, trying to go quicker.

    Mercedes came out fighting again in Q2, with Bottas flying on 1m 33.264s, the fastest time of the weekend thus far, and Hamilton, still struggling, 0.496s adrift, on 1m 33.760s. Vettel slotted into third on ultrasofts on 1m 34.038s, with Raikkonen fourth on 1m 34.053s on similar rubber.

    Behind them, it was Verstappen and Hulkenberg again, from Massa and a brake troubled Ricciardo.

    As the Mercedes stayed in their garage, Raikkonen improved to second with 1m 33.663s, but Vettel lost a promising lap by spoiling his final sector and failed to go quicker. Massa, however, moved ahead of Verstappen as Perez finally got going to join team mate Ocon in the top 10.

    That left the Toro Rossos out in the cold as neither Carlos Sainz nor local hero Daniil Kvyat improved on their earlier 1m 35.948s and 1m 35.968s bests, and they were split eventually by Lance Stroll’s Williams on 1m 35.964s. Sainz will, of course, drop three grid places as penalty for his collision with Stroll in Bahrain. Kevin Magnussen was 14th on 1m 36.017s for Haas, as Fernando Alonso brought up the rear on 1m 36.660s for McLaren.

    Thus it came down, as ever, to Q3. Could Mercedes turn up the wick to stay ahead? Or could Ferrari push them off the front row?

    Things began to go wrong for Hamilton straight away. He led Hulkenberg out of the pits, then had his warm-up lap process compromised when the German batted him before overtaking the Mercedes.

    As Raikkonen went fastest with 1m 33.253s, the fastest lap thus far of the weekend, Bottas went second on 1m 33.289s with Vettel third on 1m 33.426s. Hamilton was a very disgruntled fourth on 1m 34.464s.

    Round 1 to Ferrari.

    Round 2 went their way, too. Though Raikkonen did not improve, thus losing his chance of a first pole since France 2008, Vettel did, banging in 1m 33.194s to settle the issue.

    Behind them, Bottas looked good but did not improve, while a fastest first sector time for Hamilton translated in an improvement to 1m 33.767s, but no upward movement from fourth on the grid.

    Ricciardo held on to fifth despite not improving on 1m 34. 985s, and as Verstappen likewise did not go faster than his earlier 1m 35.1611s, Massa snuck his Williams ahead with 1m 34.110s.

    Hulkenberg improved to 1m 35.285s for eighth, as Perez and Ocon kept Force India on target for a 14th consecutive points finish with ninth and 10th in 1m 35.337s and 1m 35.430s respectively.

    So, with penalties applied (in addition to Sainz, Vandoorne is set to lose 15 places for engine component changes), the provisional grid will line up: Vettel, Raikkonen; Bottas, Hamilton; Ricciardo, Massa; Verstappen, Hulkenberg; Perez, Ocon; Stroll, Kvyat; Magnussen, Sainz; Alonso, Palmer; Wehrlein, Ericsson; Grosjean, Vandoorne.

  2. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen commented that traffic cost him the chance to go for pole position. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen believes traffic on his outlap and the resulting loss of tyre temperature in Sochi qualifying cost him a shot at his first Formula 1 pole in nine years.

    The Finn held provisional pole position after the first runs in Q3, but failed to improve on his second attempt and was jumped by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel after making a mistake at the final corner pushing to make up for lost time.

    The gap between the pair was just 0.059s at the end of qualifying, meaning Raikkonen could have taken pole with even a slender improvement had the tyres been as good as they were on the first run.

    “We just had traffic on the outlap on the last set and couldn’t make the tyres work as well as the first run,” said Raikkonen. “It was a bit more tricky. I tried to get it back in the last corner and it didn’t pay off.

    “I am happier than previous qualifying [sessions], but we had all the tools to be in the front today, but one-two for the team is not bad.”

    Vettel admitted that he had an untidy run on his first attempt in Q3, which put the pressure on for his second run as he attempted to improve on third place.

    “I had a good start to the session and was feeling reasonably comfortable, and in Q2 lost lost the rhythm on my final run, which would give me the idea for the first of Q3,” said Vettel.

    “I locked up, and on my first run in Q3 it wasn’t tidy, so I made up for it in the second run.

    “I knew we could do well and the car was good, but didn’t know what they [Mercedes] might be able to find in the last bit of qualifying. I knew we could do it, but didn’t know how strong in relation to them.”

    Vettel accepted that the Mercedes tyre troubles and the track configuration had potentially helped Ferrari’s qualifying pace.

    In the previous three races of 2017, Mercedes had the edge in qualifying, and Vettel admitted Mercedes looked strong heading into the Sochi weekend.

    “Coming here, on paper they looked very strong and they were strong yesterday, but as Valtteri [Bottas] said maybe they were not comfortable with the tyre treatment and temperatures,” said Vettel.

    “I think the track, the layout, is not bad for us. Last year we were were strong here. We didn’t have any problems, we had smooth sessions so far this weekend and the car felt very good.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton expects “a real race” with Ferrari at Sochi after qualifying fourth. Motorsport.com provides the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes will have to “go back to the drawing board” to work out a plan to beat Ferrari in the Russian Grand Prix this weekend.

    Hamilton could only qualify fourth in Sochi, over half a second off Sebastian Vettel’s pole position time.

    “I just wasn’t quick enough today,” said Hamilton. “Have to go back to the drawing board and try and figure out why.

    “Tomorrow is still all to play for. I’m still up there in the mix. It was all the last sector, I was losing half a second [there].

    “So there’s some work to do. That’s where all the mistakes happen. It was a real struggle, getting tyre temperature and really maximising [and] utilising the tyres. It was an issue yesterday and we made some changes, and it worked but then too much maybe – because that last sector was a struggle.”

    Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Hamilton rued a poor race simulation in Friday practice and was unsure of how his pace would play out next to Ferraris.

    “Ferrari are quickest here today, and generally during race trim, so it’ll be interesting to see where we stand tomorrow,” he said.

    “This means we have a real race. It’s just a shame today I definitely wasn’t at my optimum. Normally I’m a lot quicker than I am today, so I need to and work out why and see what I can do.

    “Of course, my goal is to try and get forwards, and my long run yesterday was pretty poor as well, so I’m hoping to rise back.

    “It’s only a one-stop, so it’s a very simple strategy, so I’m not particularly confident on that but I’m going to work as hard as I can to do it on track.”

  4. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admits the German manufacturer expected to be stronger heading into the Russian Grand Prix weekend, after Ferrari relegated the Silver Arrows to the second row in qualifying.

    Having swept every single Russian GP so far since the event’s introduction in 2014, Mercedes was again considered favourite heading into the Sochi weekend this time around.

    Yet Ferrari was quickest in all three practice sessions, and while Bottas looked in with a chance of preserving Mercedes’ record at the track, he eventually came up a tenth short in the shoot-out, finishing third behind Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

    Asked in the post-session press conference whether losing out to Ferrari in qualifying was a surprise, Bottas said: “Definitely yes – me personally, and as a team.

    “Coming into this weekend probably we were thinking it would be better than Bahrain – but so far it’s turned out not to be so good.

    “Ferrari appears to be doing something different. For us, disappointing not to be on pole – we did a good improvement from yesterday to today but not enough.

    “Tomorrow will be a different story, difficult to predict, but it will be close.”

    Bottas said he wasn’t sure the deficit to Ferrari was down to Mercedes struggling to get the tyres working optimally or simply down to the Italian marque having the better car.

    “I think before the qualifying the only problems we had was extracting most out of the ultrasoft tyres,” he said. “We made it better but I don’t know if it is the tyres or the car. For sure, they [Ferrari] have a very good car but we are struggling to compete with them.”

    Mercedes had taken pole for all three grands prix of 2017 so far, but lost out to Ferrari in two of the races, the Scuderia’s car being more competitive in race trim.

    But despite qualifying behind the Italian team’s drivers, Bottas believes Mercedes can still put on a fight on Sunday.

    “I think the changes and the improvements we made from yesterday and today they should help us,” he added.

    “Obviously we are not confident that we have the quickest car around here. But as we have seen the first three races, we have good race pace and I think it will be same case tomorrow.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Max Verstappen was left feeling mystified after a “very poor” Q3 shootout in which he could only manage seventh for Red Bull. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was left scratching his head after qualifying seventh for the Russian Grand Prix, following a poor performance in the top-10 shootout.

    Verstappen had been fifth and sixth in Q1 and Q2 respectively, but suddenly lost his car’s balance when it mattered in Q3, and was beaten not only by Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo but also the Williams of Felipe Massa.

    “I was actually very poor after Q2,” said Verstappen. “I had two sets [of tyres] in Q3, but I was already complaining in Q2 the last sector I was losing a lot of grip under braking into Turn 13, so I was losing the rear.

    “And then you overheat the tyres and everything gets worse and worse. And with the two sets in Q3 it got worse again.

    “Normally with less fuel in the car you should do better, but I went slower so that’s not the way to go. And that results in this seventh on the grid.”

    Ricciardo said the pace of Massa, who was only 0.2s slower than him in Q3, was expected.

    “At least before the weekend, I predicted [Williams] to be quick here,” said Ricciardo. “It’s been one of their stronger circuits the last few years, and Massa’s always been pretty handy around here.

    “He got close, certainly, and split Max and myself. I expect that battle to remain there tomorrow.

    “We’re probably not going to be battling for the win. That’s going to be Ferrari and Mercedes. But we could have a nice little battle between ourselves for a top five.”

    The Australian added: “Compared to a Williams, obviously I think we have the rear downforce in the car but they have the straight-line speed. But if you’re comparing to Ferrari and Mercedes, unfortunately they’ve got a bit of everything on us.

    “Against the Williams, maybe we can be a bit nicer on the tyres. Track position will be pretty important, and it should be a good race between Massa, Verstappen and myself – we all live in the same building in Monaco!

    “Maybe they can give the winner their apartment for the weekend, they both have pretty good-sized apartments.”

  6. Double world champion Fernando Alonso has commented that his McLaren is losing three seconds on Sochi’s straights… A shocking realization in how under-powered the Honda is. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes McLaren is losing around three seconds per lap on the straights of Sochi due to the power deficit of his Honda engine.

    The Spanish driver finished qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix in 15th position with a time that was nearly 3.5 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel’s pole position.

    Alonso was heard saying “unbelievable” on the radio at the end of the second qualifying segment, where he finished last.

    Asked about his comments after the session, he said: “It’s unbelievable how much we lose on the straights. I think it was 1.3s in the first sector and there’s just one corner and we have no problems there, so that’s what we have.

    “On the straights we lose 2.5-three seconds on this circuit and therefore it’s a bit… we knew it already before getting here, but then qualifying arrives and you always want a bit more.”

    Alonso was still delighted with his own performance in the session after outqualifying teammate Stoffel Vandoorne by seven tenths, the Belgian being knocked out in Q1.

    “I think it was a basically perfect qualifying,” Alonso added. “The Q1 lap would be hard to repeat. In Q2 I made a few mistakes, but Q1 was very good so I’m staying with that.

    “Seven tenths to my teammate, with the same car, someone who has won in all categories before reaching Formula 1, so I still feel at the peak of my form and in my best moment.”

    When asked what he expected from the race on Sunday, Alonso said: “More or less what we saw in Bahrain, what we saw in China, in Australia, what we’ll see in Spain, in Monaco, Canada…

    “Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I stand here before you and I try to answer in the most polite manner but it’s going to be a bit monotonous, a bit of the same story like it’s always been in Formula 1.

    “We can already say that Ferrari and Mercedes will fight for victory this year, that Red Bull will try to be on the podium, that Williams will be in the points, and the rest we’ll try to grab a point when the rest allow it.

    “So we’ll try to have a perfect race but aware of our limitations.”

  7. Jolyon Palmer owned up to making a mistake under pressure as he crashed out of Q1 at the Russian Grand Prix, on a weekend blighted by mechanical problems.

    The Renault driver has endured a run of issues through the Sochi weekend – with a hot exhaust damaging his car on Friday, his new chassis stopping with an engine failure on Saturday morning and then the shunt in qualifying leaving him 16th fastest.

    The Briton had a new engine fitted for qualifying.

    “Obviously losing track time this morning is not ideal,” explained Palmer, when asked by Motorsport.com about what had happened.

    “Qualifying was actually going okay. I was quite happy with the car and then, on the second set of tyres, I had a massive snap on the first lap and I didn’t improve.

    “So I was down to one lap. And then, under pressure, I just committed hard and took a little bit of kerb, which wasn’t ideal.”

    Although he had had a far from smooth weekend of running so far, and earlier races have been hit by incidents and mechanical problems, he felt that it would be wrong to vent any frustrations at Renault for what was happening.

    “No, because I also put it in the wall, so it’s quite difficult for me to point too many fingers at the team,” he said.

    “It’s a shame because I think it’s a similar case to Melbourne where I lost a lot of track time and then you try to make up for it.

    “Probably if I’d dialled it a lot better in P3 then I think we had the pace to be through Q1 quite comfortably. So when you haven’t done many laps today, then it becomes a little bit more on the limit and you have to dig deep and explore new limits.

    “So, for me, losing the track time certainly contributed. And obviously it’s my mistake and it’s a simple one, just hitting the kerb on the lap.”

    Palmer knows that there will be few strategy options to help him make good progress up the order in the race on Sunday, but felt a first lap charge like he pulled off last year could be key to helping him on his way.

    “One stop, for sure,” he said. “The special tactic is just to get a good start. It’s a long run down to turn two.

    “Last year Kev qualified 18th and at the end of lap one I was 10th, so if we can do that again there’s a chance of points. Starting from 16th, it’s possible.

    “I think, last year I finished seventh in the race and only started 16th or whatever, so it’s the sort of race where anything can happen. Especially at the start.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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