The Mercedes AMG Petronas team seems to have regained its pace advantage over Ferrari in Russia. Valtteri Bottas set a new track record on the track on which he got his first career race win in 2017 to win his second pole of the 2018 season, the sixth of his Formula 1 career.
Lewis Hamilton had the fastest first sector time on his final flying lap in qualifying round three, but he over drove a right hander in sector two, forcing him to abort his lap and settle for second. It’s the fourth front row lock out for Mercedes this season.
Sebastian Vettel could do no better than third position, as the German driver was five tenths of a second off of Bottas’ pole lap. Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth quickest.
Kevin Magnussen, fresh off the news that he will be returning to Haas in 2019, qualified in fifth. Esteban Ocon in the Force India will roll off in sixth.
Charles Leclerc scores his best career qualifying finish to date and will start seventh. Sergio Perez will start eighth, Romain Grosjean starts ninth. Marcus Ericsson got into Q3 for the first time since China in 2015 and will start in 10th position.
None of the drivers who finished qualifying round two in 11th-15th set a lap time. Max Verstappen in 11th, Daniel Ricciardo in 12th, and Pierre Gasly in 13th will all start from the back due to engine changes. The Renault teammates of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz in 13th and 14th wanted freedom to choose what tire they start the race on, as the F1 rule is that you start the race on the tires you set their fastest lap on in Q2, so they will also start the race on fresh tires. Plus, since the three drivers ahead of them will start from the back, they will start the race in 11th and 12th.
Brendan Hartley was the first driver eliminated from round one in 16th, and Fernando Alonso was 17th quickest, but these two will start from the back anyway as they changed their engines.
In 18th, Sergey Sirotkin spun on his final lap and couldn’t improve on his time, and Stoffel Vandoorne could only put up the 19th fastest time, while Lance Stroll was 20th with the slowest lap in Q1. While these were the five slowest lap times, each (except for Alonso) will start as if they made it to Q2 thanks to the five drivers starting from the back due to an engine change.
The fifth Russian Grand Prix in Sochi is set to go lights out around 7:10 a.m. ET.