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GP Week : Issue 230
QUALIFYING 2015 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX 53 LAPS ROUND 15/19 << Last Race – Japan Two Weeks Ago 1 Next Race – United States >> Two Weeks’ Time 2015 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Mercedes AMG lock out the front row for what they say is the 30th time, although having rechecked the numbers I can only count 29 (twice in 1955, once in 2012, 3 times in 2013, 12 times in 2014 and 11 times in 2015). The 1954 French GP and 1955 British GP also saw Mercedes lineup 1-2 on the grid, but the front row had 3 drivers and thus wasn’t a lockout. 2 – For the first time this season Nico Rosberg led all 3 segments of qualifying, to outqualify Hamilton for the 3rd time this season and the 2nd race in a row. His 18th pole surpasses Sir Jackie Stewart’s career total, but he’s only converted 2 of his last 8 poles into victories (Brazil 2014 and Spain 2015). The pole time was 1.400s quicker than 2014, using Pirelli tyres that are one step softer than last season. 3 – Lewis Hamilton was never within 0.172s of Rosberg in any qualifying segment, and was slower than Rosberg in all 3 seconds as well as the speed trap. Valtteri Bottas matched his qualifying performance from 2014, although he is 0.799s off the pole, compared to 0.407s a year ago. Sebastian Vettel has never won a Grand Prix from outside the top-3 on the grid in his career, but he outqualified Kimi Raikkonen by 0.383s. Raikkonen has been on the 3rd row of the grid 7 times in 2015. 4 – Nico Hulkenberg is 6th, a position he’s only bettered in qualifying once all season (5th in Austria), and with teammate Sergio Perez in 7th, both Force Indias are in the top-7 for the first time since the 2014 British GP. Romain Grosjean reached Q3 for the 6th consecutive race, while Max Verstappen was in Q3 for only the 2nd time in the last 5. Embarrassingly for Red Bull, a Toro Rosso has outqualified both their cars in Sochi for the 2nd year in a row. 5 – Daniil Kvyat qualified 5th for Toro Rosso last season, but was knocked out in Q2 this weekend, while Felipe Nasr starts 12th on a circuit on which he finished on the podium in last year’s GP2 race from 17th on the grid. Jenson Button outqualified Fernando Alonso for the first time in 3 races, and it was the first time all year that Button has progressed from Q1 when Alonso has not. 6 – Having been 18th on the grid and knocked out in Q1 last year, Felipe Massa was never close to progressing from Q2 this weekend, despite being quickest of all in the speed trap. That should help him make progress – he is 17.9km/h (11.1mph) quicker than Jenson Button in a straightline, even when both cars have the DRS enabled. 7 – Marcus Ericsson was knocked out in Q1 for the 3rd race in a row, while Will Stevens has outqualified his Marussia teammate (be it Roberto Merhi or Alex Rossi) for the last 5 races, while in his 250th race weekend appearance, Fernando Alonso takes his number of grid position penalties this season to 125, or 1 for every 2 appearances in his career. If Carlos Sainz misses the race it will be the first time a Toro Rosso driver has failed to take a start in their constructor history. and Verstappen bucked that trend, opting for just a single flying lap towards the end of the period, though none looked likely to challenge the pointy end of the grid. For those at the front, their first lap typically proved their best. Rosberg was comfortably quicker than Hamilton with Bottas getting ahead of both Ferraris. Sebastian Vettel was able to improve on his second timed lap, one of the few who did, but it still wasn't enough to get ahead of the Williams driver. Mistakes from Raikkonen and Hamilton saw them both abort their second flying laps, though neither looked likely to improve by enough to change their grid spot. Near identical times for Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez suggested they'd extracted everything possible from the Force India to sit sixth and seventh in a strong performance from the team, but other wise there was little excitement despite there being a lot of running on track. Rosberg's pole was his second in a row, his time of 1:37.113 almost 1.5 seconds faster than the pole time set by Lewis Hamilton at the inaugural event in 2014. And that's despite there being only an hour of meaningful practice all weekend. 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> RUSSIA PARTNERS: