Vettel, Raikkonen Lead Ferrari 1-2 in Russia Qualifying
SOCHI, Russia—for the first time since France in 2008, two Ferraris, driven by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, will start a formula one race on the front row as both drivers respectively finished 1-2 in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session in preparation for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom. Valterri Bottas finished in third.
For Vettel himself, it was his first pole of the season and his first since Singapore two years ago.
“I had a good start to the session to qualifying this afternoon and I was feeling reasonably comfortable and then in Q2 (qualifying two) I lost a little bit of rhythm.” Said Vettel. “But my final run in Q2 was looking for a good place, but I locked up and then in Q3 in the first round, it was not very tidy but I got a good lap and improved in the last sector and I made up some time compared to my lap before, I knew that it would be tight and I knew that I would be the first one to cross the line and going back to the screen, I was quicker than Kimi (Raikkonen) and I was ahead.”
Vettel got off to a slow start in the first two sessions, as Bottas claimed the first two rounds, with the first finishing off with two accidents right at the last moment with Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer. Haas F1 pilot Romain Grosjean was also a victim of being knocked out in the opening round, not feeling at all happy with his car, and will start in the back of the grid in 20th position. Fernando Alonso has enough grit to continue on to the second session, as well as Grosjean’s Haas teammate, Kevin Magnussen. But both drivers could not go any farther and were unable to reach the last round.
Lewis Hamilton took fourth, having a problem all day with his set up, while Daniel Ricciardo could not fare any better in fifth. Felipe Massa, though, did fare well in his Williams in sixth, but Max Verstappen had a quiet session, taking seventh. Nico Hulkenberg improved well in his Renault in eighth, and Force India’s duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top ten grid positions, respectively.
Vettel, with his 47th pole in hand, was not too quick to realize that his team is back to challenge Mercedes, considering that he has won two out of the last three grands prix.
“For a while when you look at the first three races, we have had a good start to the season. Obviously in qualifying, we have been very, very strong. How we handled the track and the tires, I do not know. A great achievement, we managed to improve the car for this race. I am sure it will be very close tomorrow, especially in the long run. We will see, we are back, at least for the front row on Saturday, and will take this moment into the race tomorrow.”
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.