Lewis Hamilton has romped to pole position for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, edging out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas in qualifying.
Hamilton had been the form man by being quickest in the second and third free practice sessions, and promptly went on to comfortably top the first two phases of qualifying before he delivered a 1:38.513 in Q3. He finished two-tenths of a second clear of teammate Nico Rosberg.
The Englishman’s provisional pole had looked under threat from the Williams of Bottas, who posted purple sector times in the first two-thirds of the lap until a mistake at the final corner; the Finn had to settle for third.
Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen continued McLaren’s fine form around this brand new circuit, qualifying fourth- and sixth-fastest in their MP4-29s. Magnussen, however, will lose five grid spots courtesy of an unscheduled gearbox change – fellow drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Max Chilton also suffer the same penalty.
The McLaren pair sandwiched local driver Daniil Kvyat, who qualified a career-best fifth-fastest in his Toro Rosso.
Daniel Ricciardo’s fading championship aspirations were somewhat attoned with the seventh-fastest time, but in all truth he will need a stroke of great misfortune for the Mercedes duo to keep his title hopes alive. Teammate Sebastian Vettel had a poor session and failed to make the Q3 cut, finishing less than three-hundredths of a second slower than Jean-Éric Vergne’s cut-off time.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen finished up eighth- and ninth-fastest respectively, but will move up one spot courtesy of Magnussen’s grid penalty.
Hülkenberg and Force India teammate Sergio Pérez finished fractions slower than Vettel in the Q2 mix, with the Saubers of Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrian Sutil right behind. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was the slowest driver in Q2.
Having shown great pace among the backmarker outfits, Marcus Ericsson looked set to make the Q2 cut, ultimately falling short of overhauling Grosjean by one-tenth of a second.
The Swede beat home Felipe Massa, who was eliminated from Q1 after his Williams suffered a suspected loss of fuel pressure. Massa was chased by the sister Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi. Pastor Maldonado and Max Chilton were the two slowest runners in the session.
2014 Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:38.513||18|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||1:38.713||+ 0.197||18|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:38.920||+ 0.622||23|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:39.121||+ 1.811||22|
|5.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:39.277||+ 2.142||27|
|6.||Kevin Magnussen^||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||1:39.629||+ 1.736||21|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:39.635||+ 1.569||21|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:39.709||+ 1.234||25|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||1:39.771||+ 2.042||26|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||1:40.020||+ 2.034||27|
|Q3 Cut-Off: 1:39.929||Time||Gap*||Laps|
|11.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||1:40.052||+ 1.714||13|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg^||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:40.058||+ 1.720||16|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||1:40.163||+ 1.825||13|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:40.536||+ 2.198||18|
|15.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||1:40.984||+ 2.646||18|
|16.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:41.397||+ 3.599||18|
|Q2 Cut-Off: 1:42.546||Time||Gap**||Laps|
|17.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:42.648||+ 3.889||9|
|18.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||1:43.064||+ 4.305||8|
|19.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||1:43.166||+ 4.407||9|
|20.||Pastor Maldonado^||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||1:43.205||+ 4.446||5|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||1:43.649||+ 4.890||10|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:38.338 by Lewis Hamilton
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:38.759 by Lewis Hamilton
^ Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Chilton will serve five-place grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox changes. Maldonado serves the remainder of this ten-place grid penalty (five places) for exceeded his power unit element allocation at the preceding Japanese Grand Prix.
Image via Sutton Images