Fourth consecutive pole position for Leclerc

Charles Leclerc achieved his and Ferrari’s fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrome.

Leclerc set two laps quick enough for P1 during Q2 and had an advantage of 0.402 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who split the Ferraris with his final lap.

Once again, the red cars showed impressive pace on the straights, with Leclerc outpacing Hamilton by almost half a second in the first sector of the lap.

Sebastian Vettel had second position after the first runs in Q3, but only found 0.082 seconds on a messy second lap and had to settle for third, just 0.023 seconds slower than Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen looked a potential pole position threat early in qualifying but ended up fourth fastest and just over three tenths ahead of fifth quickest Valtteri Bottas.

But Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new Honda power unit at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, meaning he’s currently set to start ninth.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz won the midfield battle in sixth position, just 0.067 seconds quicker than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who struggled through the first part of qualifying but delivered a superb lap at the end of Q2 to make it into the top ten shootout.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was P10 and last of those in Q3, 2.033 seconds off the pace.

Of the top ten, both Silver Arrows drivers will start on medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 time – with the rest locked in to starting on softs.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P11, although he will not start there as he has a five-place grid penalty because of an engine change at the start of the race weekend.

This means Racing Point’s Sergio Perez moves up to that position after failing to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P13 in an Alfa Romeo that hasn’t looked a top ten threat, putting him ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen did not improve on his second run in Q2 after running wide at the Turn 15 left-hander and ended up P14.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll made a similar mistake at the same corner and also did not improve, leaving him almost half-a-tenth behind Magnussen in P15.

Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after failing to improve on his second run.

He ran wide at Turn 10 on his final lap, then the rear stepped out on him in the middle of the last corner and allowed Alfa Romeo team-mate Giovinazzi to bump him by less than a tenth.

Williams driver George Russell was P17, six-tenths off the pace needed for Q2, and had an advantage of 1.2 seconds over Williams teammate Robert Kubica.

Kubica, who has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking a new Mercedes engine package, slid off the track at Turn 15 on his second push lap on his first set of tyres but improved on his second run.

Alex Albon, who carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying for an engine change, was P19 and eliminated in Q1 after spinning into the wall on his first run at Turn 13 right-hander.

The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the corner after briefly locking the rears at the start of the braking phase.

The rear came round before the apex, backing the car into the Tecpro barrier and bringing out the red flag with just over six-and-a-half minutes remaining in Q1.

Daniil Kvyat did not participate in qualifying after stopping on track with an engine problem during FP3.

The team opted to change the V6 engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, but could not complete the job in time to run in Q1.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc with this amazing run of four pole positions. The last time a Ferrari achieved this record of consecutive poles was Michael Schumacher back in 2001. What an incredible result in his first season representing the Scuderia.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.628
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.030
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.053
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.632
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:33.222
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.289
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:33.301
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:33.517
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:32.310*
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:33.661
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:33.950
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.958
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.037
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.082
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:34.233
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.840
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:35.356
18 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:39.197
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:36.474
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda –

*Five-place grid penalty for a power unit change

4 thoughts to “Fourth consecutive pole position for Leclerc”

  1. Russian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Sochi has been a Mercedes fortress since it joined the F1 calendar, but Charles Leclerc breached their defences in qualifying for the 2019 Russian Grand Prix with a scintillating lap to take pole position – his fourth P1 start in as many races…

    The two-time race winner has looked like the man to beat all weekend and he did not disappoint when it really counted, clocking a 1m31.801s around the Sochi Autodrom to finish four tenths clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

    The last time a Ferrari driver took four successive poles was when Michael Schumacher achieved the feat across the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Incidently, Leclerc – in only his second season in F1 – was just three years old at that time.

    Sebastian Vettel failed to improve on his second lap and was jumped by Hamilton, meaning he’ll start his second successive Grand Prix from third on the grid.

    With Alex Albon crashing out in Q1, Red Bull’s sole Q3 representative was Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman finishing fourth – though that will become ninth after his five-place grid penalty is applied for engine component changes.

    Valtteri Bottas was scrappy throughout Q3 and aborted his final run, the 2017 winner ending up fifth fastest with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz delivering a stunning final run to end up best of the rest in sixth.

    Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, a fraction behind, with Lando Norris eighth in the other McLaren McLaren. Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10.

    But the day belonged to a red-hot Leclerc, who took a sixth pole position of the season – the best record of any driver on the 2019 grid.

    Q1 – Albon crashes, as Vettel makes hard work of it

    Only 19 drivers made an appearance in the opening part of qualifying, with Daniil Kvyat in his civvies while his Toro Rosso team completed another Honda power unit change.

    Ferrari sent Vettel and Leclerc out on the medium tyres, the only team to do so. Leclerc set a competitive time with ease, but his team mate made life hard for himself.

    He ran wide at Turn 13 on his first run, forcing him to back out of the lap. The German looked set to improve next time around, but had to ease off again when Robert Kubica went off in the final sector. And then on his third attempt, he had to abort when the session was red-flagged after Alexander Albon crashed – again at Turn 13.

    When the session re-started, Ferrari were forced to use a new set of softs with Vettel and at the fourth time of asking, he made it count to go quickest of all, a couple of tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen slotting into third.

    Kimi Raikkonen made a mess of the final corner, undoing his hard work in the final two sectors – and it proved costly when his Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi hooked up a tidy lap to knock Raikkonen into the drop zone and out of qualifying.

    The Williams duo of George Russell, who complained to his team that they released him into traffic again as they did in Singapore, and Kubica plus Albon and Kvyat were the others to take an early bath.

    Knocked out: Raikkonen, Russell, Kubica, Albon, Kvyat

    Q2 – Leclerc quickest as Mercedes rolls dice

    Mercedes have failed to match Ferrari so far this weekend, which is perhaps why they took the decision to run the mediums in the second part of qualifying while the red cars and Red Bull’s Verstappen went with the softs.

    Leclerc set a scintillating pace once more to go quickest, a tenth ahead of team mate Vettel who had a cleaner session running a used set of softs followed by a fresh set.

    Hamilton and Bottas set slick lap times, too, and aborted their second run on the softs, which means they will start Sunday’s race on the mediums, in contrast to Ferrari and Verstappen sticking with the softs.

    Romain Grosjean showed a supreme turn of pace to get through in sixth, but his Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen was not so lucky after a very scruffy couple of runs.

    The Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg improved on their final runs to scrape into the top 10, behind the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, at the expense of Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez.

    Knocked out: Gasly, Perez, Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Stroll

    Q3 – Leclerc stars as Hamilton splits the Ferraris

    Leclerc wasted very little time stamping his authority in the final segment of qualifying, the Monegasque lighting up the timesheets as he went quickest of all after the first runs.

    His team mate Vettel was his closest challenger, but he was still three tenths off the pace as he struggled to hook three tidy sectors together.

    Second time around, Vettel couldn’t respond, clocking a disappointing opening sector, but Leclerc had no such problems. In fact, he went even quicker to take a brilliant fourth straight pole.

    That means he has now outqualified Vettel in each of the last nine Grands Prix, stretching back to the Canadian Grand Prix when the German started on pole.

    Hamilton improved on his second run to go second, putting the championship leader in a strong position to get the tow of Leclerc into Turn 3 at the start of tomorrow’s race and snatch the lead.

    It’s the first time in five years he has outqualified a team mate at Sochi with Bottas down in fifth.

    Sainz will line-up fifth, though, courtesy of Verstappen’s penalty, equalling his career-best start (Spain 2015 and Hungary 2018 were the others), with Hulkenberg securing his second top six start in the last three races.

    Norris had appeared quicker than Sainz early in qualifying, but missed out by a fraction as he ended up eighth, with Ricciardo – who ended up 10th – was outqualified by a team mate for the first time in Sochi.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton commented that the Ferrari’s top speed advantage was like a “jet mode”. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton has likened Ferrari’s straightline speed advantage to it having a “jet mode”, after he was beaten once again to pole position at the Russian Grand Prix.

    A supreme effort in the final lap of Q3 helped haul Hamilton on to the Sochi front row alongside Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, but he said his Mercedes outfit had no response to the extra power that is helping Ferrari at the moment.

    “It was a tough qualifying session because these guys have some crazy speeds on the straight,” said Hamilton, who famously coined the ‘party mode’ phrase for his own team’s high-power setting.

    “They go to another level. That old party mode you talk about, they have something else beyond that – jet mode.

    “Nevertheless, I gave it absolutely everything I had at the end. And the team did such a great job to tinker and push forward. I am so glad it came together. I wasn’t expecting to get on the front row so I am really happy with it nonetheless.”

    Hamilton is aware that Ferrari’s strong pace so far this weekend means the Italian outfit is favourite for the win, but hopes his team’s strategy to start the race on medium tyres will give it a chance of taking the fight to his rival.

    “We know they are on a slightly lower drag level this weekend, plus they have that power, so we have to try something,” he said.

    “You see the last couple of races we were behind all the way, so we were fortunate enough to opt for another strategy.

    “I think the team has done a really good job to put us in that position. It is a long way down to Turn 1, so not always the best for starts on the harder tyres.

    “I am going to try to tow the life out of Charles if I get the chance. But it is going to be hard because they have got good starts as well.”

    Pole position man Leclerc conceded that the long run to Turn 2 meant that starting from pole was not necessarily the best place to be in Russia.

    “The car felt amazing,” said the Monegasque driver. “It feels great to be back on pole but I don’t know if it is best track to start on pole.

    “The straight is very long after the start, so tomorrow the start will be very important as always, but here probably even more because of the straight.”

  3. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel sees no “pattern” in Charles Leclerc qualifying defeats. provides the details.

    Sebastian Vettel feels there hasn’t been “any pattern” in his qualifying deficit to Charles Leclerc, after the Monegasque racer took his fourth Formula 1 pole on the trot in Russia.

    Vettel trailed Leclerc by 0.425s in the final qualifying segment at the Sochi Autodrom, and was bumped off the front row by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

    The session has marked the ninth consecutive time that four-time champion Vettel has qualified behind his sophomore F1 racer teammate – and while there have been mitigating circumstances like mechanical issues or the Monza Q3 chaos, the streak has also featured some very comprehensive defeats.

    “Obviously in qualy here and there we didn’t have the best sessions on my side,” Vettel said when asked what Leclerc has been doing better than him in qualifying as of late.

    “I think obviously today Charles was faster, so it’s pretty easy to see where he’s faster, but it’s a little bit here and there.

    “I don’t think there’s any pattern standing out saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corners. As I said, obviously the last couple of races was closer than maybe it looked on the result, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

    “Usually come race day I’m getting more and more confident in the car, and pace has never been a problem in the race.”

    Vettel was “quite happy in general” with how his car felt in Russian GP qualifying, although said his messy opening segment – in which he struggled to set a competitive initial time on the mediums – was a factor.

    “I thought by the time we got to Q3 it was fine,” he stressed. “I think overall I was pretty happy with the car – I just felt as if there was more in the car that I couldn’t get to.”

    Leclerc’s Sochi pole has marked the first time a Ferrari driver has scored four consecutive F1 pole positions since seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in 2001.

    The Monegasque acknowledged the milestone “felt great”, but stressed that “I don’t want to think about these things”.

    Asked by whether his current qualifying streak has left him feeling untouchable over one lap, he said: “Of course I felt confident going in qualifying, but at one point it’s going to end, whether it’s now or later.

    “The only thing I’m trying to do is to focus on myself, try to have the same procedure as I’ve had since the last four races. I definitely don’t come in the car thinking that it will be easy and that it will come together alone.”

  4. Lewis Hamilton says recent Formula 1 qualifying laps have felt worthy of pole position but his front-row start for the Russian Grand Prix is still “quite an achievement”.

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has taken all four poles since F1 returned from its summer break and Hamilton has been resigned to starting second in the last three grands prix.

    The Mercedes driver was delighted to split the Ferraris in qualifying at Sochi, where he likened his rivals’ engine advantage to having a “jet mode”.

    Asked by to assess his performance in the context of the advantage he feels Ferrari has, Hamilton said: “I feel like the last couple of laps have been pole-worthy in terms of how it’s come together, and optimising what’s in the car.

    “Naturally they are faster than us and Charles has done a good job but I mean in terms of being as close to the limit as possible.

    “I’ve just been getting more and more comfortable in the car in the second half of the season, even though we’ve lost a little bit of performance compared to them.

    “There is still work to do collectively, all of us including myself.”

    Hamilton stressed he did not want his belief his laps were pole-worthy to be taken “the wrong way”.

    “I just mean in terms of putting the perfect lap together I feel like each time I’m getting as close to that as possible,” he added. “Then you finish the lap and it’s quite a long way off pole.

    “But it feels like quite an achievement to get in between the two Ferraris who have a bit of a delta to us at the moment.”

    Hamilton felt his lap at Sochi, which hauled him to the front row ahead of Sebastian Vettel, was “really good” and similar to the effort that earned him second on the grid in Singapore.

    However, he said he was already around three tenths down after the start-finish straight, which made it “very, very hard to catch up”.

    “The last lap was the best of the weekend, as it should be, no mistakes or anything like that,” he said.

    “I really feel like I got everything and maybe a little bit more from the car to split the Ferraris again, which is not an easy task.”

    Mercedes opted to qualify both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas on medium tyres in Q2, which means they will start on slower but more durable rubber than Ferrari.

    Hamilton said Mercedes had to try something different to beat its rival after three consecutive defeats.

    “It will be tough off the start tomorrow but even if we were in the lead, or we were pole, they are just so fast on the straights,” he said.

    “By the time we get to Turn 1, the little kink, they [would] blast past us with the jet fuel or whatever it is!

    “It’s going to be about strategy, that’s why we’re on the different tyre. I hope we can utilise that and keep the pressure on.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *