Russian Grand Prix – Qualifying

The important news is that Jules Bianchi suffered a diffuse axonal injury at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, and is regarded as “critical but stable”. “Diffuse axonal injury means that the patient is not doing well, but the scan of the brain often looks normal. Let’s wait for him to get out of intensive care, get the vital signs stable and then see.” [source: BBC]

FIA reported: Marussia to run one car in Russia after Bianchi’s crash. They have his car roped off in the garage. Must be tough for Max Chilton and the mechanics.

Mercedes have dominated Free Practice as usual, although BUT has been up there too.

Tyre compounds this weekend had to be determined before the track was finished, so that could make it interesting; prime = medium (white markings); option = soft (yellow).

Air temperature 22°C; track 32°C; it’s sunny and hardly a cloud in the sky – the opposite of Japan!

MAG, HUL and CHI all had gearbox changes, so they’ve got a 5 grid spot penalty each. [FIA]
MAL has 5 grid spots still to be added after exceeding the maximum number of permitted engines.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
GRO first to leave the pit lane
HAM going out on options – that’s odd in Q1
GRO 1:46.775
MAL being pushed back into his garage
SUT 1:42.573
ROS on options too
VER 1:41.842
BUT 1:41.268
KVY 1:41.088
HAM 1:40.061
ROS 1:39.292
KOB cut the first turn so that’s ruined his flying lap almost before he starts it
BUT to P3
10mins left of Q1; only 13 times set so far
HAM 1:39.282
ROS 1:39.076
The gap to ALO in P3 is ~1.5sec
Radio for ROS and HAM telling they’re both safe but they want to do another lap just to collect more data
HAM 1:38.759
ROS fighting the Mercedes, runs wide in Turn 10
MAS has a fuel pressure problem; told to drive around it (how do you do that?)
MAL finally on track
4mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are ERI, KOB, CHI, MAS, MAL* (*no time from MAL yet)
MAL completes his lap but only manages P17
MAS sets a time but he’s only P17; teammate BOT is P3
Frustrated MAS on the radio asking if the team can do anything
MAL touring round slowly
Chequered flag
Back of the grid: ERI, MAS, KOB, MAL*, CHI
*MAL will only take 1 grid spot out of the 5 spot penalty

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
PER 1:40.163
BUT 1:39.393
ROS 1:38.979
BOT 1:38.971
HAM 1:38.338 – quicker than the fastest Q1 time
7mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are SUT, GUT, KVY, ALO, VET, GRO but no time yet from VET or GRO
Radio from RIC – not happy with his front wing
On-board with ALO shows he’s fighting oversteer in his Ferrari
4mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are HUL, RAI, SUT, GUT, VET, GRO
RAI improves but VET and GRO still struggling
1min left of Q2; bottom 6 are PER, HUL, GUT, SUT, VET, GRO
RAI pushing hard; he’s only P10
Chequered flag
VET improves but only to P11
HUL leaps over PER for P12
Middle of the grid: VET, HUL*, PER, GUT, SUT, GRO
So both Toro Rosso drivers are through to Q3 but Red Bull only manage one, and it’s not the 4-time world champion VET.

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
BOT 1:46.399
RAI 1:41.518
ALO P3
BUT P4
MAG P3
RIC 1:40.076
HAM 1:39.980
ROS 1:38.946
VER P4
BOT P2
ALO P3
BUT P3
MAG heads into the pits
KVY P5
5mins left of Q3; order is ROS, BOT, BUT, ALO, KVY, HAM, RIC, VER, RAI, MAG
BUT pits
RIC P4
HAM 1:38.647
ROS improves his P2 time
BOT P3, just 0.01sec slower than ROS
KVY P6
2mins left; HAM, ROS, BOT, BUT, RIC, KVY, ALO, VER, RAI, MAG
Radio from RIC – rears are gone
RIC pits with only 1 min left of Q3 so he won’t get out in time for another flying lap
HAM 1:38.513
Chequered flag
BOT pushing hard – fastest in sectors 1 and 2 but locks up and runs a little wide
RAI P8
BOT P3
BUT P4
ALO P6
KVY P5
MAG P6
Front of the grid: HAM, ROS, BOT, BUT, KVY, MAG*, RIC, ALO, RAI, VER
*MAG has 5 place penalty after a gearbox change.

Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, BOT, BUT, KVY, [MAG*] RIC, ALO, RAI, VER, VET, MAG*, [HUL*] PER, GUT, SUT, GRO, ERI, HUL*, MAS, KOB, MAL*, CHI*
*MAG, HUL and CHI all have 5 place penalties for gearbox changes.
**MAL will only take 1 grid spot out of the 5 spot penalty, so he’ll carry the remaining penalty over to the US Grand Prix.

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