Sebastian Vettel has a great chance of extending his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship after he secured pole positon for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
Saturday started well for Ferrari after Vettel and Raikkonen finished 1-2 in the final practice session with Lewis Hamilton back in fourth over half a second behind Vettel. The promising news for Ferrari was that their one-lap pace seems to be better than that of rivals Mercedes. Down the field there were more problems for Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo’s car breaking down leaving him 8th fastest.
So, to qualifying and it was Sebastian Vettel who got pole with Kimi Raikkonen in second just 0.059 seconds behind. It’s the first-time Ferrari have been on pole since the Singapore Grand Prix back in September 2015. If you want to go back to when they last had 1-2 on the grid, it’s the French Grand Prix in 2008 so plenty of reasons for their fans to be getting excited. Mercedes fill the next two spots with Valtteri Bottas finishing third and Lewis Hamilton will only be fourth on the grid.
It’s not been a good weekend at all for Hamilton so far and he was 0.4 seconds behind Bottas. It was worse at one stage with Hamilton being more than a second off the pace when finishing his first lap in final qualifying. Too many times he’s been running wide and losing the rear end so needs a big improvement tomorrow or he’ll fall even further behind Vettel.
After qualifying, Vettel said that Ferrari have “managed to improve the car for this race” but still feels it will be a close race on Sunday with Mercedes having good pace on the long run. Bottas believes that Ferrari are getting more out of their ultra-soft tyre but what did Lewis have to say after another disappointing day? “Have to go back to the drawing board,” was his declaration It’s the last sector where he believes the problem lies and he believes it was costing him half a second, can he find the solution tomorrow?
Daniel Ricciardo overcame the problems he had in final qualifying to finish fifth but he’s 1.616 seconds off the pace. The Williams of Felipe Massa finished sixth with Max Verstappen back in seventh. It was another troublesome day for McLaren with Fernando Alonso complaining of losing as much as 1.3 seconds on the main straight and he starts 15th on the grid.
It looks like being an interesting race for sure tomorrow. Can Lewis Hamilton possibly have another poor day or will he turn it on and put in a great challenge on Sunday? A win for Vettel and a 1-2 for Ferrari would certainly show a bit of a shift in the landscape, wouldn’t it? Till the next blog, enjoy your racing.