Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 10. lokakuuta 2015

Russian GP / Qualifying: Third pole of the season for Rosberg!

When qualifying was about to get underway I was still quite shaken due to the crash that had happened in the last free practice session in the morning. Toro Rosso´s Carlos Sainz had lost control of his STR10 midway through FP3 on the high-speed approach to turn 12. The rear had got away from the Spaniard under braking and he had hit the left-hand wall before impacting -and submarining under- the T12 barriers. My heart jumped into my mouth when I saw Sainz all covered with the water-filled barriers. The radio wasn´t working due to the crash so there was no radio contact to Sainz and it was a dangerous-looking accident indeed. I really consider it a miracle that Sainz sustained no injuries and hopes to compete in Sunday´s race! It remains to be seen whether the Spanish Toro Rosso will really be able to do so. Should he be allowed, he´ll have to start from the pit lane. But more importantly I was so so relieved that Sainz was okay after such a horrific crash.

Q1 saw the Mercedes duo coming out on the soft tyres as expected and Rosberg was in electric form from the off. Rosberg was the driver to set the fastest lap time in the first segment. The Ferraris of Vettel and Räikkönen didn´t come out until there were some 8minutes left in the clock and they both opted for a fresh set of super soft tyres. Bottas in his Williams made his second run on the red-marked super soft tyres as well and the Finn´s pace was absolutely convincing. Bottas jumped second splitting the Mercedes duo. The Finn was only a tenth of a second down on Rosberg. Alonso was the first driver to be knocked out of Q2, which didn´t matter as the Spaniard will face a 25-place grid penalty due to an engine change. Ericsson in his Sauber and both Marussias were also out of the second segment.

Hamilton´s car lost telemetry at the start of Q2, which didn´t naturally help the Briton. Both the Williams of Bottas and Massa and the Ferraris of Vettel and Räikkönen came out at the end of the session making one run only. Once again Rosberg topped the time sheets with his team-mate second. Bottas was once again at the Mercedes duo´s tail in third place. Kimi´s pace seemed quite excellent as well as the Iceman was fourth fastest in the second session. Kvyat at the wheel of his RB11 failed to make it into Q3 whilst his team-mate Ricciardo managed to make it among the top ten. Maldonado in his Lotus was left in P14 which also caught my eye as his French team-mate Grosjean had no difficulties to make it through to the final session. The session was a disaster for the Brazilian Williams driver, who spoiled one lap with a mistake and then had another ruined By traffic. By the time he got back into his rhythm, his tyres were already done. It was an utterly disappointing P15 for Massa, who was the highest-profile casualty in Q2. However, I was glad to see that Toro Rosso´s Verstappen made it among the top ten.

By the time Q3 got underway it had turned out quite tricky for the teams to get the tyres up to the temperature. Rosberg took provisional pole with a 3-tenth margin over his team-mate. Both Mercedes driver opted to stay out rather than pitting for fresh rubber but neither could improve. Hamilton abandoned his final run after an error. Williams´ Bottas was quick enough to out-qualify the Ferraris and the Finn was third fastest today. Sebastian completed the second row by qualifying fourth. Kimi was fifth fastest today with Hulkenberg 6th, Perez 7th, Grosjean 8th, Verstappen 9th and Ricciardo 10th.

To be honest, it was refreshing to see Rosberg taking the third pole of the season and I really hope that he manages to keep his lead at the start tomorrow. Williams´ race pace is kind of a mystery but I´m confident that the Ferrari duo will be able to challenge Bottas. I don´t have any clue on the weather forecast for tomorrow but I hope it will be a dry race. Tyre degradation will also be kind of a question mark as there were different tyre compounds used at Sochi last year. And due to the very little running that the teams have been able to do in the practice sessions (the first session was delayed due to a diesel leak on the track, the second session was rain-hit and the last one was red-flagged due to Sainz´s crash)

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