Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed pole in the 2018 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix from teammate Lewis Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ending third.
The first part of the qualifying session saw Mercedes drivers reign supreme with Hamilton on top from Bottas with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen slotting in third from Daniel Ricciardo after a late lap from the two drivers with penalties.
The bottom half saw both the McLaren and Williams drivers out of Q1 along with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley as Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg just made it in when Sergey Sirotkin spun on his last lap, disrupting the laps of few drivers on their quick laps.
In the end, it was Hartley (1m35.037s) in 16th followed by Fernando Alonso (1m35.504s), Sirotkin (1m35.612s), Stoffel Vandoorne (1m35.977s) and Lance Stroll (1m36.437s). The order will change with penalties to both Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers along with Alonso.
The second session turned out to be a straightforward run in the end with both the Red Bull drivers along with Renault and the sole Toro Rosso deciding not to run, thereby settling the Top 10 without much drama in a bizarre finish.
The session was topped by Hamilton from Bottas again with Vettel slotting in third. Both the Sauber drivers along with Racing Point Force India and Haas did one flying lap each to easily make it into the Top 10.
At the same time, it was certain that Verstappen, Ricciardo and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly will not run in Q2 due to their penalties but with the pace difference and strategy in play, even Renault’s Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz decided not to run as well.
The initial runs in the final part of qualifying saw Bottas take provisional pole by just 0.004s from Hamilton with the Finn setting a 1m31.528s to the British driver’s 1m31.532s. As usual the Ferrari drivers were more than half a second down.
In the fight for the best of the rest, Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon outpaced Sauber’s Charles Leclerc for fifth with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen slotting in seventh – with three different teams eyeing a Top 5 position.
It stayed as it was after the initial run with Bottas managing to improve further with a 1m31.387s to take pole from Hamilton who couldn’t better his first flying lap after a mistake in the second sector.
Vettel finished third with a 1m31.943s lap time with Raikkonen (1m32.237s) in fourth as Magnussen fought back to claim the best of the rest honours in fifth with a 1m33.181s time on his final lap.
He demoted Ocon (1m33.413s) to sixth with Leclerc (1m33.419s) in seventh from Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez (1m33.563s), Haas’ Romain Grosjean (1m33.704s) and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson (1m35.196s).