F1 – Russian GP – Qualifying

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F1 has travelled to the Black Sea coastal resort of Sochi this weekend for round 16 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. The inaugural Russian Grand Prix was held at this circuit in 2014, but did you know that plans for a Russian GP actually date back to 1983! The country, which straddles two continents, wanted to host a “Grand Prix of the Soviet Union”, but bureaucratic reasons caused several failed attempts.

Qualifying

Through practice, Ferrari have been the pacesetters with their recent front wing and floor upgrades continuing to work well. However, Mercedes and Red Bull appear to have reduced the gap compared to last time out in Singapore.

In Q1, we saw the red flags after Alexander Albon lost control of his car and hit the barriers. The Thai driver was unharmed, but it does mean he will start tomorrow’s race from down in 19th, only ahead of Daniil Kvyat who did not set a lap. Predictably the two Williams cars were also eliminated in Q1 (17th & 18th), along with Kimi Raikkonen (16th) who was 0.085s down on team mate Antonio Giovinazzi.

There were no massive surprises in second qualifying with the eliminated drivers being; Lance Stroll (15th), Kevin Magnussen (14th), Giovinazzi (13th), Sergio Perez (12th) and Pierre Gasly (11th). Having said that, given how the practice sessions progressed, you could make an argument that not seeing a Racing Point in Q3 is a small surprise.

After the first runs of Q3, Charles Leclerc was 0.334s clear of Sebastian Vettel, followed by the two Mercedes, and then Max Verstappen who had a scruffy lap. On the second runs, Lewis Hamilton did a great job to pop his car into 2nd, but he was still huge 0.402s behind the spectacular Leclerc.

Leclerc secured his fourth consecutive pole position ahead of Hamilton and Vettel. Max Verstappen did a good job to beat Valtteri Bottas into 4th. Carlos Sainz will be delighted with 6th place, in front of Nico Hulkenberg. Lando Norris will see his team mate directly ahead on the grid as the British driver came 8th in qualifying. Romain Grosjean (9th) and Daniel Ricciardo (10th) complete the Q3 results.

Surely we have to expect a third win for Charles Leclerc tomorrow? Do any of you have an alternative view? Let us know in the comments below.