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Front Row Lock Out For Ferrari at Russian GP Qualifying

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen locked out the front row in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix. The first time Ferrari had locked out a front row since the French Grand Prix in 2008.

Raikkonen, who held provisional pole in Q3, was beaten by Vettel on his final throw of the dice at a flying lap after a two lap warm up. Raikkonen had issues with traffic on his warm up during his final attempt and was slightly compromised at the end of the lap. In the end Vettel was able to improve on his time while Raikkonen did not.

“I had a good start to Qualifying , then in Q2 I lost a bit the rhythm,” said Vettel.

“My first run in Q3 was not very tidy, so I left it to the last run.

“For us it’s so important as Mercedes had done an impeccable job in the last few years, so it’s great for the team and for me that we managed to break that.

Vettel’s 1:33.194 was 0.059s quicker than Raikkonen’s 1:33.253. Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes missed out on the front row by almost one-tenth off Raikkonen with his best time of 1:33.289. At the end the top three were covered by less than 0.1s.

Lewis Hamilton could only managed 4th fastest after the Mercedes struggled for grip in the final sector which is dominated by slow 90-degree corners. Hamilton was more that half-a second off the pace from Vettel.

“I just wasn’t quick enough today,” said Hamilton.

“It was all in the last sector, I was losing half a second there. I’ve been struggling there all weekend with the balance and it’s been tough to utilise the tyres.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board tonight and try and improve. Ferrari did a great job.”


Toto Wolff felt that Bottas could have got a place on the second row of the grid and possibly pole, but a mistake in the final sector cost him 2nd place.

In a distant 5th and 7th were the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, split by the Williams of Felipe Massa in 6th. Red Bull, according to Riccardo were not expecting anything higher than 5th today. This point enforced by the fact that the Red Bulls were more than a second off the pace.

Felipe Massa was quite happy with his lap time which split the Red Bulls and feels that he can fight the them tomorrow in the race.

“It’s so nice to see that we are in the middle of the two Red Bulls,” said Massa after qualifying.

“They were better than us in the first three races, on qualifying and race pace, but this is a good track for us and we are fighting with them.”


Nico Hulkenberg put in another great performance for the works Renault team to finish 8th fastest ahead of the Force India’s for Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Hulkenberg’s team-mate, Jolyon Palmer was a bit unlucky after bouncing over the kerbs at Turn 4 and ending up in the barrier at the exit of Turn 4. That after the team were forced to make and engine change between Free Practice 3 and Qualifying. Palmer was eliminated at the end of Q1 and will start the race from 16th.

A fighting Fernando Alonso was able to drag his McLaren through to Q2 but was unable to much after that and was eliminated at the end of Q2 in 15th. The Spaniard did come on the radio with some praise for the McLaren chassis saying the car was well balanced and his lap was near perfect. “Car felt really good. Well balanced, lots of grip. The lap was nearly perfect,” was the call from Alonso.

Romain Grosjean in the Haas was unable to get a clean lap together after suffering with braking issues all throughout Free Practice 3 and in Qualifying and at the end of Q1 was the slowest. Grosjean did say that he was compromised by a yellow flag caused by Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein who spun on the entry to Turn 13.

Going into the race Mercedes will be focussing on getting ahead of the Ferrari’s at the start. It’s a long run to Turn 2 before the long swooping left of Turn 3. The two long straights make overtaking possible around the Sochi Autodrom and with a one-stop race the more likely strategy most of the passing will have to be done on track.

Russia 2017_Qualifying Class

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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