Russia – Saturday – An overview

FP3:

Following his success yesterday during the first two practices, Lewis Hamilton managed to retain his lead at Sochi earlier today, leaving it until the last minute to grab the fastest time from teammate Nico Rosberg.

The two Mercedes drivers had been fighting for the top of the leaderboard throughout the session, with Rosberg mostly holding the advantage over Hamilton, until Hamilton came home with a 1:36.403 lap time, beating his teammate.

There was also a brief period in which the virtual safety car was introduced, fifteen minutes into the session, after Force India’s Sergio Perez failed failed to complete turn 13, causing him to drive into the run-off area. He then tried to turn back onto the track to continue, however his car ran out of steering lock as he came closer to the wall at the edge of the track. Luckily, this was sorted out quickly, allowing the session to continue.

After this event, Rosberg did a similar thing, however managed to recover better than Perez, managing to reverse out of the situation. Later, teammate Hamilton also came off the track, however was also able to recover.

For a little while during the session, it seemed as if the Ferrari’s were threatening the Mercedes’, as Sebastian Vettel managed to lap at a time of 1:37.007s, when Rosberg had lapped 1:36.783s, however the Mercedes’ managed to retain their lead.

Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen completed the session in fourth place, however struggling with his car to come home with a 1:37.727s, leaving him disappointed. Behind Raikkonen were the Williams’ of Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas.

As the session was drawing to a close, Torro Rosso’s Max Verstappen managed to put his car into seventh, overtaking McLaren’s Jenson Button on the leaderboard. Verstappen’s teammate Carlos Sainz and Force India’s Perez made up the top ten in the session.

Behind them, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished twelfth, followed by Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, leaving the last driver being Felipe Nasr.

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Qualifying:

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will start the 2016 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix from pole position after qualifying the fastest this afternoon, after qualifying 0.706s faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas coming in to make the top three.

However, due to an unscheduled gearbox change, Vettel will carry a five-place grid penalty into tomorrow’s race, meaning that he will start seventh, behind Bottas, teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Williams’ Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Rosberg’s teammate Lewis Hamilton will start tenth on the grid, after a power unit failure in Q3 meant that he couldn’t drive, automatically sending him into tenth. Hamilton was disappointed about the failure; it was the same issue that he suffered from in the last race at China. This also means that he may suffer the same fate as he did in China- starting at the back of the grid.

There’s nothing I can do… I never give up,” Hamilton reported on the matter.

In Q1, the opening phase of the session, Hamilton managed to edge out on his teammate, who were both quicker than they were in the final practice session earlier in the day.

Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean managed to progress into Q2, however Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, beating teammate Jolyon Palmer, did not managed to get through. Behind the two, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr grabbed nineteenth place on the grid, followed by the two Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Marcus Ericsson qualified last, in the other Sauber.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat delighted his home crowed as a final effort in Q2 pushed him up to tenth place, meaning that he went on to Q3, and sending Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz into elimination. It wasn’t a good session for McLaren either, with Jenson Button left in twelfth place, with teammate Fernando Alonso two places behind, in fourteenth. In thirteenth was Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg.

Due to a ERS failure similar to that in China which prevented Hamilton from running, Rosberg also dominated Q3; he completed a 1:35.417s ahead of the two Ferrari’s, topping the leaderboard. Vettel managed to retain the other front-row position, however he dropped to seventh due to a grid penalty, meaning that Bottas will take his place on the grid.

Taking this into consideration, the provisional grid will be: Rosberg, Bottas, Raikkonen, Massa, Ricciardo, Perez, Vettel, Kvyat, Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz, Button, Hulkenburg, Alonso, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Magnussen, Palmer, Nasr, Wehrlein, Haryanto, Ericsson.

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