Team Mercedes have continued to display their dominance at today’s qualifying session in Sochi, with Nico Rosberg in pole position at the Russian Grand Prix. The German has won 3 races this year with 11 podium finishes and finished today’s qualifying session in 1:37.113 with Hamilton finishing 1:37.433 and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas finishing the session with 1:387.912.
Ferrari had looked fairly strong ahead of the session but faltered today, with Sebastian Vettel unable to better Bottas’ time by the end of qualifying. The 4-time champion and teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished in P4 and P5 respectively.
This is Rosberg’s second pole position in a row, ,with the driver taking pole at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka as well – the standings at the end of qualifying in Japan had been identical to Sochi, with Rosberg and Hamilton in P1 and P2 followed by Bottas.
Rosberg lost out at Suzuka, however, with teammate Hamilton stealing a march on him right as the cars flagged off. Hamilton dominated that race, which he would eventually win. The German finished in 2nd behind his British teammate, with Sebastian Vettel rounding off the podium.
McLaren once again did not make it into Q3, with Alonso knocked out in Q1 and Button in Q2. Had he had a higher place finish at qualifying, Alonso would still begin at the back of the grid following penalties incurred for vehicle upgrades.
Although they tend to be stronger on tracks with longer straights, Force India put in a solid performance at qualifying, with Nico Hulkenberg in P6 and Sergio Perez in P7 ahead of tomorrow’s race. Hulkenberg had earlier finished FP1 on top.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, the only driver in qualifying for the team, finished at P9 after a high-impact crash involving teammate Carlos Sainz in FP3 saw the driver kept under observation in hospital until tomorrow’s race. Sainz tweeted that he was okay and “trying to convince doctors to let him out as soon as possible.”
Lewis Hamilton won last year’s race, which was the inaugural edition of the Russian Grand Prix, and he will look to repeat that performance, although he appeared at the end of qualifying to have given up on attempting to chase down teammate Nico Rosberg.
Although the first day of the race weekend saw a downpour, today saw a dry qualifying session, with tomorrow expected to be much the same. Pirelli have made softs and super softs available to drivers this weekend, with several drivers struggling for grip.