Valtteri Bottas has beaten his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by a tenth of a second to take pole position for the Russian Grand Prix. The Finn appeared as he was the slower of the two, but a mistake by Hamilton on his final lap allowed him to pip him by a tenth.
Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel was third, with the Ferrari being over half a second off the outright pace of Bottas. Mercedes are believed to have the upper hand this weekend, they have taken victory in Sochi since it joined the calendar in 2014.
Pole Lap – V. Bottas 01:31.387
Valtteri Bottas comes at the final corner from the outside of the track, he breaks as he turns into the corner hitting the apex before crossing the track going to the outside as he starts the lap. He stays on the on the outside before crossing towards the apex of One but keeps the speed down. Breaks a 100M before T2 and hits the apex, good exit onto the long curve around The Ice Dome. This is a very long corner, but keeps the power down. Breaks into the ninety degree T4, hits the kerb and gets a good exit. He’s a tenth up in sector one on his best
He carries the speed out of Five and through Six, before heading to the outside for Seven where he hits the apex. Going to the outside he continues with the speed, crossers track before breaking into Eight. Which he takes from the outside crossing straight through the corner, crosses the track and does the same for Nine. Good exit lining up on the outside, good again a ten. He carries the speed onto the long run to Twelve. Going purple in the second sector
He goes to the outside as he goes into T13, hitting the apex and sweeps across to T14, before getting the power down. God through the low-speed section breaking nicely and keeps the car at low speed. Before onto the back straight through the ninety degree seventeen going to the outside breaks into the last corner. Good exit going to the outside and does a 01:31.387.
Bottas targets victory
Valtteri Bottas says his only focus is on taking his first win of the season after taking pole position. The Finn who is currently third in the driver’s championship, hasn’t taken victory this season and it is believed that Mercedes are likely to back Hamilton.
When asked if he’s allowed to fight Hamilton for the victory and the prospect of team orders, Bottas replied: “My approach to the race tomorrow is definitely to try and win the race — you cannot have any other goal starting from pole. It’s just going to be, for sure, the aim.
“But, for sure we, as a team, we’re fighting for both championships, Lewis is leading the championship by quite a gap to Sebastian and a very big gap from me, so we have to keep those things in mind. My approach, starting the race, is trying to win, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Hamilton pushed too hard
Lewis Hamilton admits he was pushing too hard when he lost control of his car on his final lap in qualifying. The four times champion was four thousandths off a second off his teammate, after he ran wide at Turn Seven.
Hamilton said “The first lap in Q3 was down 0.3s in the middle sector, but I was up in the first and last [sectors]. So I knew I had to push quite a lot because I knew he would also gain time.”
Hamilton’s own errors increased that gap to half a second, he believes that was caused by picking up dirt losing grip.
Kvyat returns to Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat is to return to Toro Rosso next season as a race driver, despite the Red Bull team dropping him twice within eighteen months. The Russian was dropped by Red Bull in 2016 to their junior team, before being dropped altogether last year.
Kvyat will replace Pierre Gasly, who Red Bull have chosen to replace Renault bound Daniel Ricciardo. However, it is not known who his teammate will be, as Brendon Hartley is yet to convince the team he is deserving of another full season.
Kvyat, 24, said he was “particularly pleased” to be re-joining a team he knows “very well”.
“I never gave up hope of racing again, I am still young and I have kept in good shape to always be prepared in case another opportunity presented itself I will give my best to deliver what the team expects from me and I can’t wait for everything to start again.” Said Kvyat.
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost described Kvyat as “a high-skilled driver with fantastic natural speed. There were some difficult situations he had to face in the past, but I’m convinced that having had time to mature as a person away from the races will help him show his undeniable capabilities on track.”
Verstappen awarded more grid penalties
Max Verstappen has been awarded a further three-place grid penalty, for failing to slow down under yellow flags after Sergey Sirotkin spun late in Q1.
The verdict from the stewards said: “The driver admitted seeing the yellow flag and stated that he steered to the left to avoid the stationary car.
“However, the regulation is very clear and states ‘it must be evident that a driver has reduced speed’. The telemetry shows that the driver maintained full throttle and did not apply any braking. In his defence, the driver expressed the view that he felt he had acted safely.”
The stewards added that Verstappen accepted their take on the situation.
“[We] noted that the driver understood the error in not slowing and acknowledged that in future he will comply with the regulations. However in view of the emphasis now placed on compliance with yellow flag regulations, in the interests of safety, the stewards have applied the usual penalty for this offence.”
Verstappen’s running total of licence penalty points is now up to seven, which puts him five short of the twelve that triggers a race ban.
He was already starting at the back thanks to an engine change,
Renault defends sitting out Q2
Renault has defended an “awkward” tactical decisions to miss Q2 to claim a tactical advantage to allow Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg to start eleventh and twelfth on the grid.
With five drivers known to be taking engine penalties and thus unlikely to run in Q2, Renault realised that it might be able to guarantee themselves a place outside the top ten, thus have the advantage of a free choice of tyres for the start.
Abiteboul hopes the decision sends a message to F1 bosses to consider changes to the rules.
He told Motorsport.com, “It’s a bit strange, a bit awkward to decide voluntarily not to try your best. It does say something in my opinion about the whole situation between penalties and tyres and degradation and starting tyres being your Q2 tyres and so forth.
“If anything it sends a small message to all the people setting the rules. We’ve been talking about trying to secure 11th and 12th since quite a long time this season, because it’s clearly an advantage.”
- Russian GP – Qualifying Result
- RUSSIAN GP – Valtteri Bottas takes pole by a tenth over Hamilton, as Ferrari struggle to match Mercedes
- RUSSIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton leads a Mercedes one-two with a four-tenths gap over Red Bull in FP2
- RUSSIAN GP – Sebastian Vettel fractionally fastest in FP1 by hundredths of a second
- Preview – Russian Grand Prix