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GP Week : Issue 212
QUALIFYING brigade, this was looking like a better weekend for McLaren, and it was the senior staffer, Jenson Button, who delivered a second row start, although it had been an up-and-down process: "We were strong on both Options and Primes yesterday, in both FP1 and FP2, but this morning in FP3 we went backwards, even though we weren't running a lot of fuel. With the set-up we'd adopted, the car just wasn't working for us, but, importantly, we kept our heads after that, worked through the issues, and came to qualifying with a much improved car. Two spots behind him, Kevin Magnussen wasn’t happy, and not only because he would cop a five grid-spot penalty: "Today hasn't been a good day. We didn't get anything out of FP3 – as Jenson says we went the wrong way on set-up – but, even so, this afternoon things felt pretty good for me in Q1 and Q2. In Q3, however, the car felt very different.” Between them, in qualifying was ... .. Daniil Kvyatt. Local boy does good, very good. “It was already looking quite promising yesterday, so I'm very happy we could put it all together and achieve my best ever Qualifying result today. The car felt very good and everything worked out well, so well done to the team. I will do my best in tomorrow's race and I will definitely aim to finish the race at least in fifth position." A measure of his success was reflected in team-mate Vergne’s disappointment, in 10th: "I was extremely slow today and I don't know why. I lost time everywhere around the track and I'm wondering if there was a problem somewhere, which did not allow me to get the best out of the car." Red Bull? Daniel R was next, seventh, and Sebastian .... The champ didn’t quite make the 10, just missing the cut: "It's tough to get a lap together around here, for a new track it's really high in grip but at the same time it's hard to read the grip,” said Ricciardo. “It's not such a natural feeling that it gives us behind the wheel, but it's fun and a new challenge. We're better off than we were yesterday, but I was hoping for more than seventh." Vettel continues to struggle: "I wasn't comfortable in the car today. It was very difficult, I think we took a step back from this morning and we expected the rear to be a lot stronger and the track to pick up more than it did. The car felt nervous, so I couldn't take the speed into the corners, I lost the rear many times around the lap and therefore wasn't quick enough." Which of course left Ferrari. Fernando was, as usual, honest with his assessment, having jus shaded an improving Raikkonen: "Today's qualifying was more difficult than usual, or at least more complicated compared to the last two race weekends, when we had been able to fight with the front runners,” reported Alonso. So far here, we have not been competitive, even though the car seems okay and on the set-up front, we've changed almost nothing. “We can't single out any particular bad point because we are losing in all the sectors. The truth is just that the cars ahead of us were quicker. Here, the grip seems to improve with every lap and on top of that, reducing the pit lane speed to 60 km/h all points to a one-stop strategy. " 2014 FORMULA 1TM RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX 53 LAPS ROUND 16/19 << Last Race – Japan Last Weekend 1 Next Race – United States >> Three Weeks’ Time 2014 FORMULA 1TM RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Heading up the 9th Mercedes front row lockout of the year (and the 4th in a row), Lewis Hamilton has a 38th career pole position, putting him 7 behind Sebastian Vettel for 3rd on the all-time list. A win on Sunday would be his 31st, which would tie Nigel Mansell’s British record. For Nico Rosberg it was an 8th consecutive front row start. Although he’s only won 1 of his last 6 starts from pole, Rosberg has only ever won once from 2nd on the grid (Silverstone 2013). 2 – Valtteri Bottas was quickest in both sector 1 and sector 2 on his final lap in Q3, only to make a big mistake at the final corner. His sector 3 time of 30.345 was 0.724s away from his best, whereas his final lap was 1:39.329. Had he matched his best sector on that lap, he would have clocked 1:38.605, putting him 2nd on the grid. Nonetheless, Bottas finds himself 3rd on the grid for the 4th time in the last 6 races. 3 – Mclaren’s Jenson Button had his best result in a dry qualifying session this year, with 4th place (he was 3rd in the wet Silverstone qualifying). Behind him, Daniil Kvyat on home ground scores the best starting position ever by a Russian driver in F1 in 5th place, and Toro Rosso’s best since Daniel Ricciardo started 5th at Silverstone 2013. As for Ricciardo himself, 6th place is where he started last week at Suzuka, and also where he started when he won his first Grand Prix in Canada. 4 – Fernando Alonso has recently become synonymous with starting 5th all the time, but this is also the 5th time this year that he’s started 7th, with teammate Kimi Räikkönen only 0.062s adrift. Jean-Eric Vergne ended a 4-race streak without a Q3 appearance this weekend, while Sebastian Vettel failed to reach Q3 for the 4th race this season. 5 – Both Saubers are in the top-14 on the grid, representing their best performance since Hungary, where Sutil finished a season-best 11th in the race. Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson was quickest of the Caterham-Marussia group for the 2nd week in a row, and in outqualifying teammate Kamui Kobayashi by a massive 0.518s he is rewarded with a best-ever 16th place, ahead of a penalized Nico Hülkenberg (who scored from 17th at the Belgian GP). 6 – A fuel pressure problem left Felipe Massa 14mph (23km/h) off the pace in the speed trap, and knocked out in Q1 for the 2nd time this year, following on from the wet Silverstone session. For the 2nd weekend in a row, the final row consists of Pastor Maldonado and Max Chilton, albeit in the reverse order to Suzuka. 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> RUSSIA PARTNERS: