Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix 2014: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying
A sobering week in the world of Formula One concludes with the excitement of a brand new track, as the season travels to Sochi, Russia, with four races remaining.
The sport is currently pulling together in support of Jules Bianchi, who sustained serious head injuries at last Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. The Marussia driver was injured after hitting a recovery vehicle in soaked conditions at Suzuka, an occurrence which has rightly overshadowed the build-up to Sochi's inaugural event.
In fact, Marussia confirmed it will only run one car in Russia "out of respect" for its injured colleague. Max Chilton, Bianchi's team-mate who will appear on track, revealed he is "truly devastated" by the situation and that "it is going to be a very emotional weekend for the whole team."
Championship points do need to be settled, however, as Lewis Hamilton's 10-point advantage over Nico Rosberg ensures the latter needs an improved performance.
Hamilton claimed his third straight victory in Japan and finished first to Rosberg's second for the sixth time this season. It has now been six races since Rosberg last claimed top spot on the podium—stretching back to July 20's race round the Hockenheimring—meaning an end-of-season victory is needed.
The two Mercedes drivers are destined to go down to the final race before the title is settled. Hamilton can afford Rosberg to win one race if he finishes second, but the gap remains precarious in its current state.
Sochi is a weekend for the adaptable, as the true feel of the track isn't going to become apparent until Sunday's race begins.
It is something of an unknown entity, ensuring each driver must adequately utilise practice and qualifying to gain experience of the debut track. Rosberg has lost some of his early season spark in recent weeks, but he needs to find an extra burst of speed and control now only four chances to gain points remain.
Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton Takes Pole After Stunning Drive
Lewis Hamilton took his seventh pole of the season in the Russian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday, as he edged two-tenths of a second in front of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The Englishman dominated the final two practice sessions in Sochi, and picked up from where he left off with an excellent performance on the Autodrom.
His form in the first two knockout stages of qualifying was exemplary, but Rosberg was given a glimmer of hope in the opening lap of Q3 after a mistake from Hamilton.
However, the German’s window of opportunity was shut pretty soon afterwards, as Hamilton romped round to eventually post a time of 1:38:513, 0.2 seconds ahead of Rosberg.
The 29-year-old just looks totally at home on the Sochi track, and he revealed after taking pole that he’s really enjoying himself in Russia, but was quick to praise his team’s effort—per BBC Sport:
Pole is a great place to start. It's an amazing job done by the team who are constantly improving and moving forwards this year.
It's great to come here, it's a beautiful place, the weather had been amazing and I'm really enjoying driving this track.
The track surface is great, very smooth but it's got a lot of grip. The kerbs are done nicely and the surroundings, being around the Olympic Park is quite an incredible place.
Hamilton, currently 10 points ahead of Rosberg in the World Championship standings, is looking to cement his dominance at the top by winning the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, and if he takes his form from Saturday into the race then it’s looking a safe bet.
Hamilton produced an excellent drive, but the performance of the day has to go to Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who’ll start in third.
The Finn came close to upstaging the big two, having set a faster time than Hamilton through the first two sectors of the final lap, but sliding wide on the final corner cost him pole.
Qualifying was something of a mixed bag for Williams, though, as Felipe Massa was eliminated in Q1 after his car suffered an engine problem.
However, Bottas’ brilliance is enough to give the team plenty of hope heading into Sunday’s race.
Elsewhere, Jenson Button recovered from miserable practice sessions to take fourth, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished over a second back of Hamilton in seventh.
Here’s a look at the complete qualifying times:
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:39.735||1:39.022||1:39.629|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:40.354||1:39.929||1:40.020|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:40.273||1:40.058|
|16||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:42.526||1:41.397|
A win for Mercedes at the Russian Grand Prix will secure the Constructors’ Championship, and with Hamilton and Rosberg clear of the field once again, that much is looking inevitable.
What’s less certain, though, is which of them will be standing top of the podium come Sunday. Will Hamilton edge closer to World Championship glory, or can Rosberg close the gap?
P3: Lewis Hamilton Remains in Control over Nico Rosberg
Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton picked up from where he left off in the third practice session of the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday, finishing 0.29 seconds clear of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Sochi.
The Englishman set a searing pace on the Sochi Autodrom, recording a phenomenal time of 1:38:726, though it could have been even better.
On the final lap, which was set to be his best of the day, Hamilton under-braked on the penultimate corner and was treated to a bit of spin for his troubles, but the damage was already done.
Only Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas finished within a second of the 29-year-old, who’ll head into Saturday afternoon’s qualifying full of confidence at securing pole position.
And Mercedes think that’ll happen, too, as co-team boss Toto Wolff said after the session that there’s simply no stopping Hamilton—per BBC Sport:
“It was a tremendous lap, he seems to extract the maximum out of the car at the moment.”
Meanwhile, McLaren had a session to forget, with Kevin Magnussen bringing out the red flag just 20 minutes in and Jenson Button complaining about balance throughout.
Where they faltered, Williams succeeded, as Bottas' performance combined with a fifth-place finish for Felipe Massa gives them a good platform from which to build heading into the qualifying.
As always, though, it’s all about the Mercedes one-two.
With the world championship clock ticking, whoever secures pole in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying will hold a big advantage in Sunday’s race. And based on P3’s evidence, Hamilton is still very much in the driving seat.
Here’s a look at the full results:
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:39.755||1.029|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:40.338||1.612|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.669||1.943|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.699||1.973|
|21||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time|
P2: Lewis Hamilton Asserts Control as Daniel Ricciardo's Power Unit Fails
Lewis Hamilton responded to Nico Rosberg's first practice marker by claiming the top time during Friday's second stint ahead of the Russian Grand Prix.
The Englishman, who leads Rosberg by 10 points atop the drivers' championship, finished 0.864 seconds ahead of Kevin Magnussen in a session which was halted with a red flag after Daniel Ricciardo suffered a power unit failure.
Rosberg loitered in fourth, producing further questions as to whether he will be able to maintain pace with Hamilton when the Sochi race begins.
Jenson Button was unable to repeat his podium-teasing form of the morning. He dropped from third to sixth between practices, but will be hoping he can shave off valuable time during qualifying. Below Hamilton, only a quarter of a second separates Magnussen in second and Massa in seventh.
Red Bull's lack of competitiveness is alarming. Ricciardo's unfortunate unit failure happened as the session entered its last three minutes, while Sebastian Vettel just couldn't find the speed needed for a top finish.
Team boss Christian Horner was flummoxed by the lack of pace, saying, "The drivers are not saying there's anything particularly wrong with the car, but it doesn't seem quite quick enough," per Lawrence Barretto of BBC Sport.
Hamilton certainly takes the edge heading into qualifying. Rosberg was nearly a second behind his team-mate during the later practice session and needs to find a sharper route if he's going to make up points on the weekend.
Here's a look at the full standings, courtesy of the official Formula One website:
|9||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:41.396||1.766||30|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:41.677||2.047||27|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:42.061||2.431||25|
|14||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:42.090||2.460||29|
P1: Nico Rosberg Sets the Early Pace in Sochi Opening Session
Nico Rosberg set the early pace during the first practice session at the Russian Grand Prix. The German finished ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.065 seconds, seizing the initiative like he did during the opening exchanges in Japan.
Hamilton fought back at Suzuka where he reasserted his dominance during the second practice session. Although these advantages are somewhat minimal, the psychology of finishing ahead at this stage cannot be downplayed. Rosberg has lacked a spark when chasing, unlike Hamilton, whose confidence appears to grow during moments of catch-up.
"I'd like to sacrifice one of my long run laps, please," said Hamilton in his attempt to gain time, per Lawrence Barretto of BBC Sport, a request ultimately denied by the Mercedes race control.
McLaren enjoyed a solid practice, despite Jenson Button's spin as the session came to a close. He overpowered on Turn 8 and headed off track, but he came to a safe stop on the sidelines. Button finished third, ahead of Fernando Alonso, who was subject to a McLaren-sandwich with Kevin Magnussen claiming fifth.
Roberto Merhi also span in his Caterham during an interesting first showing on the new track. Incidentally, Max Chilton finished slowest on the day it was announced Marussia would only race one car in honour of Jules Bianchi, who remains in hospital after his unfortunate crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.
You can see the full results for first practice below, courtesy of the official Formula One website:
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:43.129||0.818||26|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:43.821||1.510||25|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:43.976||1.665||21|
|14||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:44.506||2.195||30|