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It may be a brand new track but it was the same old story in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position.
The championship leader put in a lap time of 1:38.513, which was a full 0.200 seconds quicker than his teammate, and title rival, Nico Rosberg.
It was very nearly a different result with Williams driver, Valtteri Bottas, pushing the Mercedes cars all the way. The Finn was quicker through the first two sectors on his final lap but pushed too hard going into the final corner and went off the track.
Local hero, Daniil Kvyat, was arguably the driver of the day as he put his Toro Rosso fifth on the grid…. beating the likes of Fernando Alonso and future teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, in the process.
Kvyat will start in-between the two McLaren drivers, with Jenson Button in fourth place and Kevin Magnussen in sixth. Both drivers will be happy with their improved performance and will be hoping to impress in tomorrow’s race.
Both Button and Magnussen are fighting for their careers, with Alonso expected to join the team next season.
Sebastian Vettel’s dismal season continued, with the four-time champions being knocked out of the session in Q2. Vettel’s car was seriously down on power on the straights and he was unable to make it into the top 10.
Both Force India cars were also struggling, with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez both missing out on the top 10 shoot-out. The pair will start from 12th and 13th places respectively.
It was even worse for Felipe Massa, who had been hopeful of a second-row start in tomorrow’s race. This was never going to happen however as his car was hit with a fuel pressure issue in Q1.
Despite the Brazilian’s best efforts he was unable to find the speed required from his injured car and ended up qualifying down in 18th place.
It looks like the race will be between the two Mercedes drivers, with Bottas looking good for the final step of the podium.
F1 Russian GP Qualifying Results