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GP Week : Issue 212
QUALIFYING Mercedes locked out the front row, which in itself was not unpredictable, but in fact Valtteri Bottas, but for one small error, came close to splitting the two silver cars for the first time. Driver opinions on the new Sochi layout varied but, if you could read between the extra- hyped PR-speak for F1’s Russian debut, the circuit had some interesting things going for it, not least the long, long, left around the square (circle?). The surface itself was smooth, quite grippy, but somehow not producing much by way of tyre degradation. It would be a one-stopper for sure. It soon became clear that Sochi would reward sheer power and, in the end, five of the top six qualifiers were Mercedes- powered; the sixth, intriguingly, was local boy Daniil Kvyat, whose Toro Rosso outshone both Red Bulls. Hmmmm. Up front, on thisn occasion, Lewis Hamilton appeared to have a couple of tenths up his sleeve throughout and he turned that into pole, improving with his final run despite his engineer suggesting the track was getting slower: “He said that the track looked like it was getting slower. But I was up on the next lap. It wasn't a perfect lap. I think there was more time in it. IAs I said, it didn't feel as good as the P3 session but hopefully tomorrow should be good.” For his part, Nico remained optimistic: “Today Lewis was quicker – all weekend really. So I've been working hard to try to get close but didn't manage to get closer than those two tenths now but that's the way it is. I need to accept that. “Also, I had the Williams or Valtteri coming up from behind, going quick, so I needed to keep and eye on that.” Rueing a late-lap error, Valterri Bottas came as close as he has to knocking off one of the Mercs: “Maybe, looking back I took a bit too much out of the tyres in the beginning of the lap and the last sector became a bit more tricky. I risked it a bit too much in the last two corners, went a little bit wide and when you go offline it's really slippery like everyone saw and that was it. “The benefit is that we will be starting on the cleaner side of the grid.” As part of the Merc-powered Yup, it's a Mercedes track again ... FORMULA 1 Round 15 RUSSIAN GP – Qualifying POS # DRIvER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS 1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.759 1:38.338 1:38.513 18 2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.076 1:38.606 1:38.713 18 3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:39.125 1:38.971 1:38.920 23 4 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.560 1:39.381 1:39.121 22 5 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:40.074 1:39.296 1:39.277 27 6 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.735 1:39.022 1:39.629 21 7 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:40.519 1:39.666 1:39.635 21 8 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.255 1:39.786 1:39.709 25 9 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:40.098 1:39.838 1:39.771 26 10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:40.354 1:39.929 1:40.020 27 11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:40.382 1:40.052 13 12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:40.273 1:40.058 16 13 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:40.723 1:40.163 13 14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.159 1:40.536 18 15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:40.766 1:40.984 18 16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:42.526 1:41.397 18 17 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:42.648 9 18 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:43.064 8 19 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:43.166 9 20 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:43.205 5 21 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:43.649 10 Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Chilton drop 5 places for unscheduled gearbox changes. Maldonado drops 5 - remainder of 10-place penalty for engine change at last round. 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> RUSSIA PARTNERS: