It’s pole for Nico Rosberg after a well executed qualifying session in which the German dominated all three sessions. Lewis Hamilton will start from the front row in P2 after finishing second repeatedly in all three sessions.

Valtteri Bottas will start from P3 for Williams alongside the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth ahead of Hulkenberg, Perez, Grosjean, Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Russian GP Top 10 Qualifying

1. Nico RosbergMercedes
2. Lewis HamiltonMercedes
3. Valtteri BottasWilliams
4. Sebastian VettelFerrari
5. Kimi RaikkonenFerrari
6. Nico HulkenbergForce India
7. Sergio PerezForce India
8. Romain GrosjeanLotus
9. Daniel RicciardoRed Bull
10. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso

Qualifying got underway following a break from this morning’s FP3 incident that saw Carlos Sainz crash at Turn 13. The Spaniard was conscious and speaking – he even tweeted a photo from the hospital bed saying he was all good. This is the second Russian Grand Prix in history, taking place in Sochi – the first Russian city to hold a Grand Prix and one of the few to ever host both the Olympics and a Formula 1 Grand Prix Championship.

Daniil Kvyat is the crowd’s favorite having grown up in a nearby city to Sochi, the Russian has showed great improvements in the last few races. There are two DRS zones – the first one is located after Turn 1 while the other one is at Turn 11. Meanwhile, Pirelli provided both soft and super soft tires for this session

Marussia’s Merhi was the first to head out on super softs followed by Verstappen and Stevens. The Dutchman was on softs, he set the first time on 1m40.529s. Rosberg was the first Mercedes to set time on 1m43.877s which placed him behind Verstappen, Nasr and Bottas. The German then smashed the timesheets with a 1m38.556s lap to take the overall lead.

Hamilton’s time of 1m39.574s was good to place him behind Rosberg and ahead of Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Verstappen and Massa. All the top eight drivers were on softs. McLaren was indeed showing great improvement so far with Alonso moving up to fifth and Button in sixth.

The Ferraris were now out and headed for their first runs, the two cars missed out in the rain-hit FP3 session. Sebastian Vettel did an impressive lap on 1m38.598s which was good enough to put him in third – he was on super softs though. Raikkonen meanwhile was fourth after posting a time of 1m39.207s.

With 3 minutes left in Q1, the Mercedes cars were in the garage after posting the fastest times on soft tires – they appeared to be comfortable and confident with those times. Those eliminated in Q1 were Alonso, Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi. Button was lucky enough to proceed into Q2.

An update on Sainz was also released in this session. It stated that his medical scan found no injuries but the Toro Rosso driver will be staying overnight at the hospital as a precautionary measure.

When Q2 went green, Rosberg led Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Perez and Nasr – all on super softs now. Rosberg’s time of 1m38.335s placed him straight on top of the timesheets but Hamilton’s 1m37.672s was even faster. Hulkenberg was third leading Grosjean, Kvyat, Perez, Ricciardo and Nasr.

Moments later Rosberg replied with a 1m37.500s to regain the overall lead. Maldonado, Bottas, Massa, Raikkonen and Vettel were yet to make any laps. Raikkonen posted his first time and slotted in third place before Vettel demoted him to fourth. Bottas went even faster to snatch third from Vettel.

When the chequered flag came out, Raikkonen had managed another quicker lap enough to place him back to third. But Bottas fought back and went 0.1s faster than Raikkonen to finish in P3. Those eliminated were Kvyat, Nasr, Button, Maldonado and Massa.

Raikkonen was the first man to head out into Q3 pole shootout followed by Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas – all on super softs. The Ferraris were the first to set the pace before Bottas time of 1m37.912s changed the order. Rosberg then went fastest on 1m37.113s with Hamilton 0.320s behind him.

Russia GP Red Bull

Free Practice Report

FP1 was delayed by over half an hour on Friday morning due to spilled diesel on the track that consumed a significant amount of time while restoring it back to normal. A cleaning track had spilled the oil while working overnight, the marshalls spent the first half of the session clearing the spillage.

Fernando Alonso was the first to set pace on 2m 00.736s in his McLaren-Honda and 30 minutes later he was still the only driver who had posted a time. Ericsson was the second to post a time followed by the other McLaren of Jenson Button – Alonso had improved his time to 1m 53.854s.

With 15 minutes left, most drivers began to roll out and Max Verstappen went fastest on 1m 50.870s but Alonso smashed that with a 1m 49.240s before slashing it further to 1m 47.443s – faster than Raikkonen, Perez, Bottas and Sainz. Nico Hulkenberg then posted the fastest time on 1m 45.987s.

In the final minutes of the session, Vettel had bettered his time to 1m 44.986s before Rosberg put his Mercedes first on 1m 44.407s. That never held too long as Hulkenberg ended the session with the fastest time on 1m 44.355s.

FP2 was a repetition of Japan after heavy rains prevented the drivers from posting any significant times. Nonetheless, Williams Felipe Massa was lucky to have posted a time of 2m 00.458s that remained unconquered till the session was over.

Alonso was again the first man to set pace on 2m 05.599s. Raikkonen, Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Marussia’s Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi did not make any runs in the session. Mercedes’ Rosberg did not post any time either. Vettel’s time of 2m 00.659s was good enough to rank him second ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Alonso, Kvyat, Sainz and Button.

Russia GP McLaren Honda

FP3 was ended prematurely too after Carlos Sainz crashed heavily at Turn 13, the race was red flagged before the race control announced there would be no restart. Rosberg was the fastest man on the field after posting a 1m 38.561s lap in the final minutes. Bottas was second on 1:39.287 leading Hamilton, Perez, Massa, Hulkenberg, Button, Maldonado and Alonso.

Ferrari did not set a time in this session as they were still in the garage, some drivers did not complete the qualifying simulation too. Sainz hit the barriers at Turn 13 and was buried under them, he was taken to the medical center though conscious and speaking.

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