Russian Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying: Saturday's F1 Results, Times and Final Grid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2016

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during final practice ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg will begin the Russian Grand Prix in pole position on Sunday, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton once again running into trouble in qualifying.

Hamilton was unable to make it out for the final qualifying stint, meaning he'll begin in 10th. Trailing Rosberg was Ferrari man Sebastian Vettel, although he will be hit with a five-place grid penalty, meaning third-quickest Valtteri Bottas will start on the front row in his Williams, with Kimi Raikkonen in third.

Earlier in the day, Hamilton, who was also summoned to see the stewards after qualifying, set the pace in the final practice session.

Here's a reminder of how things panned out on another dramatic Saturday, including all the times from the day and the positions for Sunday's race.

Qualifying Recap

This is how things finished in qualifying on Saturday, with Ferrari man Vettel to be dropped five places as aforementioned:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (end of Q3) #Quali #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/i8H9xd5OxD

Back to the tried-and-tested qualifying format, divided into three sessions, there seemed to be little danger of anything too dramatic occurring in the first stint. And so it transpired, as both Renaults, both Saubers and both Manors were unable to escape the drop zone.

Hamilton was placed under investigation during qualifying.
Hamilton was placed under investigation during qualifying.YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

Hamilton, after he failed to make it beyond this stage in his last outing, was safely through based on his time. However, there was a slight scare for the reigning champion, after it was revealed he was under investigation after failing to follow orders from the race director.

The F1 feed explained the reasons for the inquiry, and it was later confirmed the three-time champion would have to see the stewards after qualifying:

Formula 1 @F1

Hamilton ran wide at Turn 2, and the incident might land him in hot water #Quali #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/knr8yftx2K

Even with that visit looming over him, Hamilton seemed to keep his focus. And the times continued to get quicker from the Mercedes men as the second session got under way. Indeed, Rosberg set an all-time lap record in Q2 of one minute, 35.337 seconds to top the standings, with Hamilton around a second back.

Rosberg set a searing pace in Q2.
Rosberg set a searing pace in Q2.YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

Meanwhile, in the battle to make it into Q3, there was some tense racing, with home-crowd favourite Daniil Kvyat edging out Carlos Sainz very late on. After being well-placed for much of the session, both McLarens were eliminated, as were the Haas pairing and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

F1 journalist James Allen summed up just how much of an advantage the Mercedes pair had at this stage:

James Allen @Jamesallenonf1

It's only Q2 but already Mercedes 1.28 secs ahead of Ferrari. #F1 #RussianGP

The shootout between the two wasn't to materialise, though. As we can see here, Mercedes revealed Hamilton was out of Q3:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

GARAGE UPDATE: @LewisHamilton is out of #RussianGP #Quali His #F1 W07 Hybrid has suffered a recurrence of the China Power Unit failure

It left Rosberg with what was a relatively simple task in the final stint, although he was still able to hammer home a mark of 1:35.417, leaving him comfortably clear of the rest of the field.

The battle to keep an eye on quickly became for the lesser places, with Vettel eventually able to cling on to the second-quickest spot despite a late surge from Bottas.

As noted by Kevin Eason of the Times, given the Ferrari man's penalty, things are shaping up well for Rosberg:

Kevin Eason @easonF1

How much easier can it get for Nico Rosberg. Pole for #RussianGP ahead of Seb Vettel, who has a 5-place penalty. Bottas P3, Kimi P4

For Hamilton, this is a major blow, especially with a lot of distance to make up in the championship already. Additionally his race craft and sharpness off the line hasn't been great this season; that's something that will need to change if he's to feature on the podium on Sunday.

Meanwhile, things continue to align for Rosberg, who was once again imperious on the day. The German is in the form of his life at the moment, and although there was a minor hiccup from him in FP3 on Saturday, with Hamilton back down the field and Vettel also serving a penalty, it's tough to see anyone beating him in Sochi.


Final Practice Recap

Here is a look at the classification following the final practice session at the Sochi Autodrome on Saturday, per the Formula One Twitter feed:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (end of #FP3) #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/4Doe8uQPRH

In the early stages of the session, Turn 13 was proving problematic for the drivers looking to put in some qualifying-style laps. 

First, Force India’s Sergio Perez got lodged against the barrier after braking too late, and just minutes later, an uncharacteristic mistake from Rosberg saw him make a similar error.

Here’s a look at the predicament the duo found themselves in:

Formula 1 @F1

Yellow flags and Virtual Safety Car deployed as Perez overshoots the turn 🔶🔶 #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/zodhJ6q4sS

Formula 1 @F1

Rosberg attacks on a flying lap, but attacks too hard and spins off at Turn 13 #FP3 #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/ALrzJeVYk6

Once the session did settle down, the class of the Mercedes men quickly became apparent, with Rosberg and Hamilton trading spots at the top of the timesheets.

Rosberg seemed to have the edge at the midpoint, although Hamilton always looked threatening. The reigning champion went purple in the first sector of his follow-up lap, but he also fell foul of what was becoming an increasingly treacherous Turn 13.

Mercedes continued to dominate in FP3.
Mercedes continued to dominate in FP3.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Further down the standings, there was little give between drivers from the other teams. Indeed, the pace of the Force India cars suggested they'd be competitive with the likes of Red Bull, Williams and Toro Rosso come the latter stages of qualifying. The team were pleased with the efforts of Perez in particular:

Sahara Force India @ForceIndiaF1

20 mins left in FP3. We have Checo in P7 with a fine 1:38.934, followed by Nico in P13 (1:39.578). #RussianGP #FeelTheForce

Late in the session, the drivers donned the supersoft tyres and the times came tumbling down. Rosberg was able to better his own mark before a mistake from his team-mate left Hamilton a shade behind in pursuit of the top spot.

It was becoming very clear this was going to be an inter-team tussle; the Mercedes Twitter feed was delighted with both of their drivers:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

Wow... What did we feed those boys this morning?!?! #F1 #RussianGP #FP3

Rosberg went quicker again with the clock ticking down, almost teasing Hamilton into a response, who stayed out longer than usual on the supersoft compound. And after a couple of scruffy laps, the Brit did manage to edge in front, undercutting the championship leader by less than seven-hundredths of a second.


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