Rosberg claims pole for Russian GP in Sochi

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Sebastian Vettel suffered from a 5-place grid penalty which converted his 2nd place qualifying run into a 7th place starting position for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix. The drama didn’t end there as Lewis Hamilton, looking to open his account on the 2016 Driver’s Championship bid, suffered an engine failure that will see him start at the back of the grid on Sunday.

Lewis’ championship-leading teammate, Nico Rosberg, claimed pole position by qualifying seven tenths ahead of Vettel and keeping his momentum rolling for 2016 with three wins on the trot. Hamilton also had to visit the FIA race control to explain why he failed to follow the prescribed circuit re-entry procedure in turn 2 during Q2.

Many McLaren fans were hoping Sochi would be the circuit that would reward the team with a Q3 appearance, the first since 2014. That didn’t happen as both cars were eliminated in Q2 and in fairness to the team, Jenson Button felt this challenging circuit may not flatter their cars and we may not see what they have in hand until the series returns to Europe.

One of the surprises of the session was the Force India of Sergio Perez who split the Red Bull’s and made it to Q3 in his efforts to finally score points in 2016. Considering his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, is languishing back in 13th, the Mexican did one heck of a job.

American team Haas F1 struggled in Q2 and will start from 15th and 16th and look to be struggling with grip and balance in the car.

Williams have quietly surged to the front with Valtteri Bottas starting in 2nd and Felipe Massa in 4th. Williams have been roughed up by Ferrari so far this year but the team have reclaimed their pace and position and the question is, can they hold off a charging Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari starting from 3rd.


1Nico RosbergMercedes1m35.417s
2Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1m36.536s1.119s
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m36.663s1.246s
4Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m37.016s1.599s
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/TAG Heuer1m37.125s1.708s
6Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m37.212s1.795s
7Sebastian VettelFerrari1m36.123s0.706s
8Daniil KvyatRed Bull/TAG Heuer1m37.459s2.042s
9Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Ferrari1m37.583s2.166s
10Lewis HamiltonMercedes
11Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Ferrari1m37.652s
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1m37.701s
13Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m37.771s
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda1m37.807s
15Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m38.055s
16Esteban GutierrezHaas/Ferrari1m38.115s
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1m38.914s
18Jolyon PalmerRenault1m39.009s
19Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1m39.018s
20Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes1m39.399s
21Rio HaryantoManor/Mercedes1m39.463s
22Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1m39.519s


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Wow, will Lewis’s bad luck ever end. It is weird how in F1 it often happens that all of the team’s problems happen on one side if the garage, I guess this year is Lewis’s turn.
I remember Webber was often the victim of this phenomenon.
Great for Nico though, it would be good for F1 to have a new champion.


Let’s not get carried away now. In the first race, Hamilton botched his start. In the second race Hamilton botched his start. You could maybe argue bad luck with the damage he got from hitting Bottas, but you could equally argue that he screwed up and brought it on himself. He’s had the same engine problem two races in a row and yes, that’s bad luck, but Nico simply out drove him in the first two races. Let’s not forget that. I just know some of the British press are going to blame it all on luck and try to… Read more »


Despite the talk of Ferrari closing the gap, it looks like it is still Mercedes by a second, then Ferrari, then a tenth or two, then just about everyone else is covered by then next second. When it comes to the race, fingers crossed the two Finns don’t take each other out at turn two, and that fast starting by Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull mixes up the front of the grid, for the first few laps at least. Is Hamilton starting from 10th or the back? That was still being discussed at the end of the Sky quali coverage.… Read more »


Hamilton shouldn’t get any grid penalty for changing any power unit components (he has only used two of his permitted five so far) as team’s can change items for identical specification ones under pace ferme rules, if the FIA scrutineer agrees the the original part is damaged. If however they change the specification of any part, then he will need to start from the pit lane.


Mercedes have replaced the TC, MGU-H, ES and CE on Hamilton’s car. There is no indication in the FIA report that this will result in a grid penalty.


So, I’ve been a Hulkenberg fan for a long time, since his GP2 days… I rate him highly and that’s why Sergio Perez is seriously impressing me. No bad luck for Hulk today. Perez just beat him.

Bottas has been losing credibility in my eyes, as he should be wiping the floor with Massa. Perhaps today is when he finally starts doing that.


This is the first race this year where Pirelli chose to bring a harder compound as the third choice. As a result we can get a true picture of the development over last year’s car. Pole in 2015 was 1’37.113, so Mercedes have found 1.776s in the last six and a half months (Rosberg’s Q2 time was 1’35.337).
In the same period, Ferrari have improved by 1.842s, so they are catching, slowly.

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