Leclerc on pole, Hamilton 2nd at Sotchi

No Ferrari lock out front row in Russia

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By Olivier Ferret

28 September 2019 - 15:11
Leclerc on pole, Hamilton 2nd at (...)

Charles Leclerc beat Lewis Hamilton by four tenths of a second in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix to become the first Ferrari driver to score four consecutive pole positions since Michael Schumacher in 2001.

After securing poles at Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and at Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit last weekend, Leclerc was again untouchable at the Sochi Autodrom and he set a final Q3 time of 1:31.628 to eclipse Mercedes driver Hamilton by 0.402. Sebastian Vettel was third in the second Ferrari, two hundredths of a seconds behind the championship leader.

Q1 got underway with Leclerc setting the pace on medium tyres. The Monegasque driver logged a time of 1:33.613 to top the timesheet but Hamilton took over in P1 on soft tyres with a lap of 1:33.230.

Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon then took to the circuit and Verstappen immediately jumped to second place with a lap just 0.138 slower than Hamilton’s early table topper. Albon’s opening run was compromised, however, when Williams’ Robert Kubica spun ahead of him and he was forced to make another attempt. It ended early, however, when the Thai driver lost the rear end of his RB15 in Turn 13 and he slid into the barriers and out of the session.

The red flags were shown and on the resumption, Vettel, who had earlier also had a moment at Turn 13, went out on soft tyres. He jumped to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:33.032. That stood as the benchmark until the flag as Leclerc, Verstappen and both Mercedes drivers sat out the remainder of the session.

Eliminated at the end of the session, however, were 16th-placed Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Räikkönen, Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica and Albon. Already facing a back-of-the-grid start due to replacing PU elements and having suffered another PU problem in final practice, Daniil Kvyat did not take part in the session.

In the second session Leclerc led the way, with the Monegasque claiming top spot with his first run before shaving more time off to hold the position after the second run thanks to a lap of 1:32.434.

Vettel was closer to his team-mate this time, finishing the segment just 0.102s behind the younger Ferrari driver and Verstappen progressed to Q3 in third place with a lap of 1:32.634, two tenths of a seconds off the P1 pace.

Eliminated at this point were 11th-placed Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly followed by Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll.

And after he had topped the opening two segments of qualifying there was to be no denying Leclerc in the final top-10 shoot out. Vettel began his first flying lap strongly but a very quick final sector saw Leclerc take provisional pole with a lap of 1:31.801, three tenths ahead of the German. Hamilton was fourth ahead of Bottas, while Vertsappen lost the rear end slightly through the final turn of his lap and the error saw him slot into fifth place.

Leclerc then improved again on his final run to seal his fourth consecutive pole position with a lap of 1:31.628, while Hamilton split the Ferraris with a lap just two hundredths of a second quicker than Vettel’s. Verstappen improved on his final run to take fourth and edge Bottas back to P5.

Behind the Finn, sixth place in the session went to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in seventh. Lando Norris was eighth in the second McLaren ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and the final top-10 place went to Daniel Ricciardo in the second Renault.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 1:33.613 1:32.434 1:31.628
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 1:33.230 1:33.134 1:32.030
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 1:33.032 1:32.536 1:32.053
04 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 1:33.368 1:32.634 1:32.310
05 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 1:33.413 1:33.281 1:32.632
06 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 1:34.184 1:33.807 1:33.222
07 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 1:34.236 1:33.898 1:33.289
08 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 1:34.201 1:33.725 1:33.301
09 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:34.283 1:33.643 1:33.517
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 1:34.138 1:33.862 1:33.661
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:34.456 1:33.950
12 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:34.336 1:33.958
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:34.755 1:34.037
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:33.889 1:34.082
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:34.287 1:34.233
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:34.840
17 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 1:35.356
18 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 1:36.474
19 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB15 1:39.197
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 -:—.---

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