Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix 2014: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2014

Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix 2014: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    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

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    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:

    PosDriverTeamQ1Q2Q3
    1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:38.7591:38.3381:38.513
    2Nico Rosberg Mercedes1:39.0761:38.6061:38.713
    3 Valtteri Bottas Williams1:39.1251:38.9711:38.920
    4 Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:39.5601:39.3811:39.121
    5 Daniil Kvyat STR1:40.0741:39.2961:39.277
    6Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull1:39.7351:39.0221:39.629
    7Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:40.5191:39.6661:39.635
    8Kimi Raikonnen Ferrari1:40.2551:39.7861:39.709
    9Jean-Eric Vergne STR1:40.0981:39.8381:39.771
    10Sebastian Vettel Red Bull1:40.3541:39.9291:40.020
    11Kevin Magnussen McLaren1:40.3821:40.052 
    12Sergio PerezForce India1:40.2731:40.058 
    13Esteban GutierrezSauber1:40.7231:40.163 
    14Adrian Sutil Sauber1:41.1591:40.536 
    15Romain Grosjean Lotus1:40.7661:40.984 
    16Nico Hulkenberg Force India1:42.5261:41.397 
    17Felipe Massa Williams1:42.648  
    18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham1:43.064  
    19Pastor Moldanado Lotus1:43.166  
    20Max Chiltdon Marussia1:43.205  
          

    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

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    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:

    PosDriverTeamTime/RetiredGap
    1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:38.726 
    2Nico RosbergMercedes1:39.0160.290
    3Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:39.0970.371
    4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:39.7551.029
    5Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:39.9541.228
    6Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:40.0091.283
    7Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1:40.0111.285
    8Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:40.1511.425
    9Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:40.2051.479
    10Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:40.3381.612
    11Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:40.3551.629
    12Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:40.6691.943
    13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:40.6991.973
    14Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:41.1462.420
    15Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:41.5202.794
    16Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:41.9153.189
    17Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:42.4363.710
    18Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:43.1094.383
    19Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:43.9755.249
    20Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:44.7376.011
    21Pastor MaldonadoLotus-RenaultNo time 

P2: Lewis Hamilton Asserts Control as Daniel Ricciardo's Power Unit Fails

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    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:

    PosNoDriverTeamTime/RetiredGapLaps
    144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:39.630 27
    220Kevin MagnussenMcLaren1:40.4940.86432 
    314Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:40.5040.87432
    46Nico RosbergMercedes1:40.5420.91230 
    577Valtteri BottasWilliams1:40.5730.94333 
    622Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:40.7181.08832 
    719Felipe MassaWilliams1:40.7311.10130 
    826Daniil KvyatSTR1:41.1081.47832 
    91Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:41.3961.76630 
    1025Jean-Eric VergneSTR1:41.5311.90133 
    117Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1:41.6302.00024 
    1227Nico HulkenbergForce India1:41.6772.04727 
    133Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:42.0612.43125 
    1411Sergio PerezForce India1:42.0902.46029 
    1599Adrian SutilSauber1:42.2332.60331 
    168Romain GrosjeanLotus1:42.8923.26230 
    1713Pastor MaldonadoLotus1:42.9053.27533 
    1821Esteban GutierrezSauber1:43.0553.42533 
    199Marcus EricssonCaterham1:44.1354.50522 
    204Max ChiltonMarussia1:44.5304.90029 
    2110Kamui KobayashiCaterham1:44.9525.32227

P1: Nico Rosberg Sets the Early Pace in Sochi Opening Session

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    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:

    PosNoDriverTeamTime/RetiredGapLaps
    16Nico Rosberg Mercedes1:42.311 29
    244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:42.3760.06525 
    322 Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:42.5070.19628 
    414Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:42.7200.40927 
    520Kevin Magnussen McLaren1:43.0260.71528 
    611Sergio PerezForce India1:43.1290.81826 
    726 Daniil Kvyat STR1:43.1640.85329 
    87 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari1:43.2120.90123 
    925Jean-Eric Vergne STR1:43.3271.01624 
    1077 Valterri Bottas Williams1:43.5421.231
    1119Felipe Massa Williams1:43.7411.43022 
    123Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull1:43.8211.51025 
    1327Nico Hulkenberg Force India1:43.9761.66521 
    141Sebastian Vettel Red Bull1:44.5062.19530 
    1599Adrian Sutil Sauber1:44.6252.31426 
    1613Pastor MaldonadoLotus1:44.8762.56526 
    1737 Sergey Sirotkin Sauber1:45.0322.72122 
    188Romain Grosjean Lotus1:45.1902.87925 
    1945Roberto Merhi Caterham1:46.7824.47118 
    209Marcus Ericsson Caterham1:46.9224.61118 
    214Max ChiltonMarussia1:47.2844.97326