Nico Rosberg will start today’s Russian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton who lines up second as Mercedes dominated the session. Hamilton will have to wait longer to clinch his 50th pole position in Formula One.
Valtteri Bottas again went well in Sochi and start’s the race on the second row of the grid. The Finn was narrowly faster than Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari who lines up fourth for the race.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 10, 2015
Before Q1 had begun we were already reduced to nineteen runners in the session. Carlos Sainz was taken to hospital in free practice 3 earlier on in the day after a huge crash at Turn 13. The Toro Rosso man lost control under braking and careered into the barrier at high speed. Miraculously Sainz did not suffer any injuries and wants to race, the team have left the ball in his court and said they will leave it up to him.
Im out of The Hospital! Thanks a lot to The hospital of Sochi And The Marshals at The track for making it easier! pic.twitter.com/VYpF18TvZE
— Carlos Sainz (@carlosainz) October 10, 2015
With cooler temperatures, grip and tyre temperature was at a premium meaning drivers had to have two warm up laps before going for a fast time. Due to the lack of running this weekend due to a number of different factors, some teams such as Williams took the chance in Q1 to do some set up work with some high fuel running before booking their place in the second phase of qualifying.
It was business as usual in Q1 in terms of casualties. The Manor pairing of Roberto Merhi who stepped aside at the last race for Alex Rossi was fractionally slower than team-mate Will Stevens along with Marcus Ericsson and Fernando Alonso. McLaren were running some parts on the car for next season that Alonso described as “experimental”. Despite falling at the first hurdle with Alonso, McLaren are pleased with the latest engine upgrade from Honda. The Spaniard will start at the back after being hit with an engine penalty which equates to thirty-five places on the grid.
Whilst Bottas was pulling his weight at Williams, it was a day to forget for Felipe Massa who qualified in 15th place. After a poor first effort, the Brazilian felt as if he was hindered by traffic on his final run and failed to progress.
Unlike his team-mate Pastor Maldonado failed to make the cut into Q3, to make matters worse for the Lotus driver who has been thrashed by the departing Romain Grosjean, the Venezuelan also had spun earlier in Q1.
Felipe Nasr may have thought that he had done enough to book his place in the top ten shootout but he was pipped to the post by Max Verstappen who continues to impress in his rookie season. The teenager also ended Russian Daniil Kvyat’s day with a quick time to make it into Q3.
Kvyat and Nasr were joined on the sideline by Jenson Button, Maldonado and Massa.
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) October 10, 2015
Due to the track evolution, it seemed as if the last man over the line would take pole position. After breaking the lap record on his way to topping Q2, Rosberg went quicker once again in Q3 and set a benchmark time of 1:37.113. The best Hamilton could do was get within 0.320s of Rosberg after his first run.
We looked set for a thrilling climax to the session with both Mercedes men going out for one final effort, but our fun was soon ruined. Hamilton had set a quick time in the first sector but the championship leader ran wide at Turn 13, handing pole position to Rosberg who is looking to cut down Hamilton’s championship lead.
With a long run to Turn 2, we could see quite the battle for the lead on the opening lap.