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Qualifying highlights - Russia 2014 - Tense top ten shootout ends first qualifying in Sochi

Published by Christine

Power problems for Felipe in qualifying
Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1

The smooth surface of the newly asphalted Sochi Autodrom caused quite the stir amongst F1 teams, as the tyres didn't react as they might have expected.

Some drivers found themselves lacking pace, others had a better day than they've had for a long time. All eyes were on the battle at Mercedes, but also on Daniil Kvyat, participating in qualifying for his home Grand Prix.

If you missed any of the action, or just want a quick recap of how the first qualifying sessions in Russia unfolded, the Factbyte Factbox replay is here to help.

As it happened: Russia 2014 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Lewis Hamilton takes pole position with a practically perfect lap in every way.
  • Valtteri Bottas almost tops the times but loses grip on the final sector, remains third.
  • Daniil Kvyat puts in a fine performance for fifth, best qualifying of his career.
  • Vettel fails to get into the top ten shootout, finishing P11.
  • Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado drop out in Q1 with reliability problems.
  • Marcus Ericsson misses out on Q2 for Caterham by a tenth of a second.
  • 11:30

    Hello F1 friends, it's been a tough week but here we are, ready to roll ahead of qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.

  • 11:33

    So far, the descriptions and feedback coming back from the brand new track suggest it is very much a mix of Valencia and Korea, with the look of Abu Dhabi about it. Not classic circuits to emulate, wouldn't you say?

  • 11:34

    Mercedes have dominated practice, as always, but McLaren appear to have picked up the pace, whilst Red Bull dropped back a little.

  • 11:35

    Both Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg are set to take five place gearbox related penalties this weekend, so qualifying as high as possible will be the aim - as if it wasn't already!

  • 11:36
    Factbyte Factbox image

    Medium and soft tyres are on offer this weekend, with Pirelli picking the two compounds they think will cope with the unknown elements of the Sochi Autodrom.

  • 11:39

    Hard to have perfect data without a lot of running on the track, but Brembo reckon turn two will be the trickiest braking point - down the home straight, round the kink and then hard on the brakes.

    Braking Analysis
    Turn 2
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial speed312km/h
    Final speed107km/h
    Stopping distance105m
    Braking time1.94s
    Maximum deceleration5.27g
    Maximum pedal load126kg
    Braking power2046kw
  • 11:40

    Although watching on board and close up footage of the cars winding their way round the track can highlight just how much concrete and grey is involved, the overhead shots are very colourful. Big, beautiful Olympic Park stadiums, lots of flags and even a big fountain.

  • 11:42

    Both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel say the track didn't feel very good in the simulator, but is much nicer in real life. Button: "In the simulator it wasn’t fun to drive at all, but here it’s nice to drive. I’m happy with the job they’ve done."

  • 11:44
    2014 Pole Positions
    1N Rosberg8
    2L Hamilton6
    3F Massa1
  • 11:47

    The Russian crowds will get to cheer on a home driver, with Daniil Kvyat driving in the Toro Rosso. Sauber also tried to get in on the action during first practice, letting Sergey Sirotkin in the car for a session. Back to their normal line up for the race though.

  • 11:48

    Max Chilton also has a five place grid drop hanging over his head, as the Marussia has a new gearbox on board. Pastor Maldonado will take his leftover five place drop as he didn't qualify high enough last weekend to take the full ten place engine related penalty.

  • 11:53

    Weather icon

    Wind speed0.8mps
  • 11:55

    TweetTweet from @McLarenF1: Big effort from the team to get Kevin's car ready for #Quali. Good job, guys. #RussianGP

  • 11:57

    Marussia are running just one car this weekend, with Max Chliton their representative in Russia. It's their home race, but they're paying tribute to Jules Bianchi who remains in a critical condition in a Japanese hospital. Everyone is thinking about the Frenchman and his family.

  • 12:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 12:00

    The engines start to roar as Romain Grosjean heads out of the pit lane first.

  • 12:01

    Six drivers take to the track early, but we're likely to see lots of banker laps pouring in soon.

  • 12:01

    All drivers heading out for their first laps have the softer compounds on board, except the two McLaren drivers who have the mediums bolted on.

  • 12:03

    Even Mercedes have opted to put the soft yellow stripes on, an unusual move from the team that are almost always faster than everyone else.

  • 12:04

    Pastor Maldonado has crawled back into the pit lane, and the engine has been switched off on that Lotus. The team have confirmed a switch to Mercedes for next year, so maybe the power units are going on strike.

  • 12:04

    Bit of a lockup for Lewis Hamilton as he hustles round the track to complete his first lap of the session.

  • 12:05

    We've got times on the board though, with home favourite Daniil Kvyat in P1 for the moment. Hamilton crosses the line to drop the benchmark by a full second. 1:40.061.

  • 12:05

    Nico Rosberg posts an even quicker time, down in the 1:39s.

  • 12:06

    Team radioTeam radio to Nico Rosberg: "So Nico, expecting that's good enough to get through but we'll definitely do a lap three."

  • 12:07

    The Caterham pair have had a rotten couple of laps, currently 12 and 16 seconds off the pace. Kobayashi has been off track, however, and improves on his time to move up to ninth for now. Ericsson pushes his teammate down, taking that ninth place for himself.

  • 12:08

    With ten minutes left on the clock, the Red Bull team are finally getting to work. Daniel Ricciardo heads out to start his installation lap, with Sebastian Vettel following soon after.

  • 12:09

    Both the Red Bull drivers have taken on the soft tyres as well. Not a lot of confidence at this new track from anyone yet.

  • 12:09

    Fernando Alonso slips into second place, with, impressively, Kvyat still just behind him in fourth. Vergne is up in sixth too. Lots of times still to come, though.

  • 12:11

    TweetTweet from @Lotus_F1Team: Issue sorted @Pastormaldo ready to go

  • 12:12

    Felipe Massa has set his first lap time but it is eight seconds off the pace and technically outside the 107% cutoff. He's backing off to clear some space for a proper flying lap now though.

  • 12:13

    Massa has been told now that he has a fuel pressure problem and will have to drive round it. That explains his struggles so far.

  • 12:13

    Hamilton has the provisional top spot for now, but it's the drop zone that we're interested in. Ericsson, Kobayashi, Chilton, Massa and Maldonado.

  • 12:13

    Pastor has yet to set a lap time, but he's halfway round his first now.

  • 12:14

    He's rounding the final few corners of the circuit, it looks like a real handful, that Lotus, but he's managed to cross the line for a 1:43.

  • 12:14

    That keeps him in the drop zone, but at least he has a time on the board now.

  • 12:15

    Grosjean isn't much further ahead, he's 16th and right on the bubble. Sauber are just ahead of those two Lotus cars, so still in the danger zone but doing better than they have at other races this year.

  • 12:16

    All eyes on Felipe Massa now, as he crosses the line to improve on his time... and it's only good enough for 17th!

  • 12:16

    The two Mercedes drivers have pitted, from first and second on the standings. The rest of the field are all out on track, continuing to fight for position as they try and stay out of the drop zone at this first running of the Russian Grand Prix.

  • 12:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 12:19

    The fastest three in that session were Hamilton, Rosberg and Bottas.

  • 12:19

    Team radioTeam radio to Pastor Maldonado: "Sorry about that Pastor, a complete shambles."

  • 12:20
    Out in Q1
    17M EricssonCaterham
    18F MassaWilliams
    19K KobayashiCaterham
    20P MaldonadoLotus
    21M ChiltonMarussia
  • 12:20

    A great final lap from Marcus Ericsson, to finish within a tenth of the 16th place finisher (Romain Grosjean). Close to Q2, but not quite there yet.

  • 12:22

    QuoteBonus Vitaly Petrov in the paddock: "When I was starting my racing career, I was dreaming to have an F1 track. When I raced in F1 for three years, I was again I was dreaming for this Russian Grand Prix. Then suddenly in 2010, we take the decision and we know we will have this. Finally we are here, and it’s a great feeling for all our fans in Russia. All the tickets are sold, maybe 1000 is left or something."

  • 12:23
    Gap Analysis
  • 12:24

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Soft tyres for everyone. Performance gap has come down between the two compounds, we're looking at around 1.2 seconds.

  • 12:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 12:26

    Early start for Red Bull this time, as Daniel Ricciardo is one of the first out of the pit lane. Eight cars are running after just a minute of the session.

  • 12:28

    Three minutes gone, and just Bottas, Alonso, Vettel and Grosjean remain tucked away in the garage, biding their time.

  • 12:29

    Sergio Pérez sets the first lap time of the session, a 1:40.163.

  • 12:30

    Ricciardo goes second fastest behind Pérez, whereas Button managed to snatch P1, shaving seven tenths off the Force India's time.

  • 12:30

    Rosberg goes fastest with a 1:38.9.

  • 12:31

    Replays show a bit of a lockup for Kvyat, who posted an eighth place time on his first run.

  • 12:31

    Kevin Magnussen puts in a good lap to slip into second, behind Rosberg and just ahead of his teammate Button.

  • 12:32

    Hamilton currently sits in 12th place but is on a hugely fast lap now. He crosses the line for a 1:38.3 and that's P1 for now.

  • 12:32

    Pérez, Sutil and Gutiérrez head back to the pit lane for a brief break from proceedings.

  • 12:33

    It's a scruffy lap for Daniel Ricciardo, locking up for a puff of smoke round one corner, then sliding around the next. He's fighting to keep control of the Red Bull, and hauls it to a sixth place lap time.

  • 12:34

    Six minutes left on the clock and the drop zone features Räikkönen, Sutil, Gutiérrez, Vettel, Alonso and Grosjean.

  • 12:34

    It looks like Vettel and Alonso have posted a couple of slow out laps, and are now putting the hammer down.

  • 12:34

    Probably not the same story for Grosjean.

  • 12:35

    Alonso improves to move into seventh place, but it's close at the rear of that top ten.

  • 12:36

    Kimi Räikkönen also manages to shave seconds off his time, moving up to eighth, just behind his teammate.

  • 12:36

    Drop zone now then, Vergne, Hülkenberg (who is in the pit lane), Sutil, Gutiérrez, Vettel and Grosjean.

  • 12:37

    Hamilton and Rosberg, plus Magnussen and Button have all returned to the pitlane, presumably happy with their work in this session.

  • 12:38

    Vettel is improving on his own times but doesn't appear to be moving up the order any. He's still 15th, with just over a second to find if he wants to get into the top ten.

  • 12:40

    Räikkönen was on the brink there, in tenth place, but has improved to ninth, dropping Vergne to tenth.

  • 12:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 12:41

    Vettel improves but it's juuuust not enough, and he's 11th. Out in Q2!

  • 12:41

    The fastest three in that session were Hamilton, Rosberg and Bottas again.

  • 12:42
    Out in Q2
    11S VettelRed Bull
    12N HülkenbergForce India
    13S PérezForce India
    14E GutiérrezSauber
    15A SutilSauber
    16R GrosjeanLotus
  • 12:43
    Qualifying Battle
    Red BullQualified Ahead
    D Ricciardo10
    S Vettel6
  • 12:43

    TweetTweet from @f1elvis: With the race looking like a 1 stopper, there isn't necessarily the need to save tyres like normal here.

  • 12:45

    QuoteKeeping an eye on his future driver, Christian Horner on Daniil Kvyat: "It’s not just this session, but he’s done an incredible job this year so far for a rookie. He’s just getting stronger and stronger, here in front of his home crowd, he’s putting in another strong performance this weekend."

  • 12:47

    QuoteMax Chilton: It’s been a very difficult weekend for all of us, we’ve tried to do the best job we can. I think performance-wise we’ve been doing okay compared to the Caterhams all weekend and been fairly happy with the balance, I think missing that option run in FP3 has hurt us in qualifying as the circuit seems to have evolved a bit. We just need to keep doing the best job we can, and do it for Jules.

  • 12:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 12:48

    Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen lead the train of drivers out. It's a busy start to this final session of qualifying.

  • 12:52

    Lap times pouring in now, and Ricciardo heads to the top of the timesheets with a relatively slow 1:40.076.

  • 12:52

    It really seems like slow first laps are the order of the day. Outlap, slow lap, then on it.

  • 12:52

    Alonso is eight seconds off on his first run, Button ten seconds.

  • 12:53

    Hamilton appears in P1 oh-so-briefly, before Rosberg tops the times with a 1:38.946.

  • 12:54

    All ten drivers have been out on track for their first stint, but Magnussen dives into the pit lane first. He's currently in tenth place, and has a five place drop to take.

  • 12:55

    Replays show Magnussen ran wide off track during his lap prior to going into the pitlane. He's been pushed back into the garage and the mechanics are hurriedly making their changes.

  • 12:56

    Bottas and Button both pushed Hamilton down, as did Alonso. Ricciardo crosses the line for P4, but now we're looking at Hamilton again as he completes another flying lap.

  • 12:56

    1:38.647 for Hamilton, shaving three tenths off his teammate's time.

  • 12:56

    Magnussen is back out, and Button goes in to the pit lane.

  • 12:57

    Rosberg can't touch Hamilton's time on this attempt, two tenths down on the P1 time.

  • 12:57

    Meanwhile, Bottas crosses the line and he's just one hundredth of a second off Rosberg, now sitting third.

  • 12:58

    Button rejoins the action, so all ten cars are out on track with just over 90 seconds left on the clock.

  • 12:59

    Daniel Ricciardo pits, reporting "rears are gone".

  • 13:00

    Hamilton is putting in a supreme lap now, clean and precise, as he improves on his own time for a 1:38.5.

  • 13:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 13:01

    Bottas was fastest in the first two sectors and incredibly looked like he could push the Mercedes for pole position, but he ran wide at the final corner, no grip remaining. Third for the Finn.

  • 13:02

    TweetTweet from @WilliamsRacing: What an effort!!!! But P3 for Valtteri... Looking good for tomorrow #RussianGP

  • 13:03
    Q3 results
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2N RosbergMercedes
    3V BottasWilliams
    4J ButtonMcLaren
    5D KvyatToro Rosso
    6K MagnussenMcLaren
    7D RicciardoRed Bull
    8F AlonsoFerrari
    9K RäikkönenFerrari
    10JE VergneToro Rosso
  • 13:03

    StopwatchPole position for Lewis Hamilton with a time of 1:38.513.

  • 13:04

    Very evenly spaced.

    Gap Analysis
  • 13:05

    A sweaty Daniil Kvyat waits to get weighed after the session, and eyes the timing screens with interest. Great session for him, fifth place for the Toro Rosso driver.

  • 13:07

    Reactions from Kvyat over the radio show just how much this qualifying means to him. "YES!" he cries, with his engineer "Bravissimo!"

  • 13:09

    QuoteToto Wolff on the competition closing the gap: "Bottas is looking racy, but this is how it should be. We were lucky in some of the races we had a real gap advantage. Today, Williams could have been on pole. We’ve seen a brilliant Kvyat in front of all the Red Bulls. An exciting race tomorrow."

  • 13:19

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "Pole is a great place to start. First you know, an amazing job done by the team. Constantly improving and moving forwards this year. Thanks to them we’re able to be on the front row quite often. It’s great to come here, it’s a beautiful place and the weather is amazing. Really enjoying driving this track. It wasn’t the easiest of sessions, obviously these guys were looking quite strong and just hooking up a good lap, for some reason, it wasn’t the same as practice. But I’m really grateful that I got the pole here for the first time. Could be tough tomorrow, it’s a long lead down to turn one so we’ll find out how that works out.

    "The circuit is very cool, definitely. The track surface is great, very smooth but it’s got a lot of grip. The kerbs are just done very nicely. Obviously, the surroundings, when I landed here, seeing the mountains and being around this Olympic stadium… where they put the Olympics on, it’s quite an incredible race. Today we had a good turnout as well, for the first Saturday of the race here. So I hope that tomorrow’s even better and we can put on a good show for them."

  • 13:20

    QuotePress conference quotes - Nico Rosberg: "Every race is important at the moment. We have four to go, so they are all just as important. Today Lewis was quicker… all weekend really. Been working hard to try and get close, but didn’t manage to get close to Lewis. Two tenths now, but that’s the way it is, need to accept that. Also had the Williams, Valtteri coming up behind, going quick, also needed to keep an eye on that. But front row is okay, definitely. From there, everything is possible tomorrow. It will be an interesting race. It’s very unique here because there’s hardly any tyre degradation because the track is so smooth on the tyres. It’s completely different to anything we’ve seen this year. It’s a big challenge to set up and get to grips with the track this weekend, but yea, I think it’s going to be a good race tomorrow."

  • 13:20

    QuotePress conference quotes - Valtteri Bottas: "I didn’t know at that time it was close to the pole, I only knew how it was compared to my best lap which was the previous lap, which wasn’t bad. I knew I had one more lap to go, looking back took maybe a bit too much out of the tyres at the beginning of the lap and then the last sector became a bit more tricky. As I was gaining time compared to my best at the end, it became more difficult in the last few corners. I raced a bit too much in the last two corners and went a little bit wide. Here, when you go offline, it’s really slippery. That was it."

  • 13:24

    A great qualifying session overall. Drivers out of position, a few surprises along the way, and some great performances in that final top ten shootout. Heartstopping moments, setting up an interesting grid for tomorrow.

  • 13:24

    Nico Rosberg is definitely starting to look rattled, particularly as Hamilton appears to have adjusted to this new track as though he was born here.

  • 13:25

    Kvyat did a fabulous job in front of the home crowds, particularly compared to the disappointing performance from the two Red Bull drivers.

  • 13:25

    It should be a good one, so please do join me tomorrow as we watch the first Russian Grand Prix, and find out who will be the winner of this inaugural race.

All content in the series Russia 2014