Russian Grand Prix: Ferrari lock up the front row in qualifying
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 29, 2017 Updated: 2:02 PM
SOCHI, Russia -- Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, along with teammate Kimi Raikkonen locked up the front row for Sunday's race, something the team has not done since the 2008 French Grand Prix.
Vettel took his 47th career pole position and his first pole since 2015 at the Singapore Grand Prix. The team has really begun to show their genuine pace this weekend as Ferrari finished on top in all three practice sessions as they continue to take the fight to Mercedes.
"I am very happy that we locked out the front row for the team. I had a good start to Qualifying, then in Q2, I lost a bit the rhythm. My first run in Q3 was not very tidy, so I left it to the last run. For us, it’s so important as Mercedes had done an impeccable job in the last few years, so it’s great for the team and for me that we managed to break that," Vettel said.
Kimi Raikkonen took second ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third and Lewis Hamilton in fourth as Mercedes seemed to struggle with many of the low-speed corners of the Sochi Autodrome.
"I just wasn’t quick enough today. It was all in the last sector, I was losing half a second there. I’ve been struggling there all weekend with the balance and it’s been tough to utilize the tires," Hamilton said.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth and was 1.7s from the front saying " I’m pretty happy, I think fifth was all we could ask for today and that’s obvious looking at the gap to the front."
Felipe Massa and Williams, who took sixth, look to give Red Bull a run for their money this weekend as they look to close the gap on the world champions. Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen ended his day seventh. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, who has remained solid all weekend, finished eighth with the Force Indias' of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon qualifying ninth and 10th. Force India continues to look on target as they have scored points in every race this season.
Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz qualified 11th ahead of Lance Stroll in 12th followed by Daniil Kvyat in 13th who wasn't able to put his Toro Rosso in the top ten for his home crowd. Kevin Magnussen finished 14th for Haas. However, this order will shift once Sainz's 3-spot grid penalty is applied.
McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso, who qualified 15th said: “It was a good qualifying in terms of the performance of the chassis and aerodynamics – the balance of the car felt quite good; quite grippy in the corners. I felt competitive, and my Q1 lap was very good."
“The tires are tricky around here, as you need to warm them up quite hard, but everything went okay today. The sunny weather helped – and I think it’s going to be a good tire for the race."
Renault's Jolyon Palmer ended the day 16th after his RS17 clipped the kerb which sent him spinning into the wall at Turn 4.
Alonso's teammate Stoffel Vandoorne took 17th but will receive a 15-place penalty for a power unit change made on Friday. Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein finished 18th and despite haveing a spin was still 0.3s faster than his teammate Marcus Ericsson who finished 19th.
Rounding out the bottom of the order in 20th was Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who was caught by double yellows preventing him from putting down a time to get into Q2.
Afterwards, Grosjean went on to say “I’ve been very unhappy with the car since yesterday morning. Something is just not working, and then today we had the yellow flags on my last lap while I was trying to improve. We need a solution for those yellow flags. Three races now we’ve had at least one Haas (car) out because we get a yellow flag on our last attempt, so that’s a bit too much."