Grand Prix of Russia – Qualifying

Before looking forward to the Grand Prix of Russia, it’s important to remember back to the San Marino Grand Prix of 1994 – hard to believe it was 22 years ago – I remember the race weekend well but for the wrong reasons: Rubens Barrichello had a really nasty crash in practice [video]; in qualifying, Roland Ratzenberger had a front wing failure and hit the wall hard at high speed, resulting in severe head and neck injuries – Formula 1’s first fatality in 12 years [accident] [announcement]; and then in the race, there was an incident at the start which resulted in debris flying into the crowd and injuring four spectators [video] and of course on lap 7 Ayrton Senna went off at Tamburello, fatally hitting a concrete wall at around 233 km/h (145 mph) [video]. [Andy Hallbery’s personal report of the weeekend]

A terrible weekend; hard to watch & remember, but it’s important not to forget – a lot of today’s safety improvements are because of that weekend.

So back to the Grand Prix of Russia…

Continuing his run of success, ROS won in China and put himself 36 points ahead of HAM in the standings after 3 races.

Free practice:

  1. FP1: ROS, HAM, VET, RAI, MAS
  2. FP2: HAM, VET, ROS, RAI, RIC, BOT, KVY, BUT, MAS, ALO
    After coming to a stop on the main straight in FP2, VET will have a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change [BBC]
  3. FP3: HAM, ROS, VET, RAI, MAS, BOT, VES, BUT, SAI, PER

Air temperature 16°C; track 30°C

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
WEH 1:40.162
NAS 1:39.549
GUT 1:38.891
Both Mercedes drivers now on track
HUL 1:38.562
ROS 1:36.684
HAM 1:36.518
About half the cars still in the pits
10mins left of Q1
PAL and MAG both struggling to get their Renaults to turn in
ROS 1:36.119
HAM 1:36.006
HAM under investigation for running wide in Turn 2 – there’s a bollard that the drivers are supposed to go around if they run wide
5mins left; bottom 6 are HAR, ERI, WEH; no time from RIC, ALO, BUT
Everyone has set a time now
3mins left; bottom 6 are PAL, MAG, GRO, HAR, ERI, WEH
Some improvements at the bottom of the timing screen but only GRO makes it out of the bottom 6
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are NAS, PAL, MAG, WEH, HAR, ERI
MAG to P17
PAL P18
ERI P21
HAR P21
Back of the grid will be: MAG, PAL, NAS, WEH, HAR, ERI

Qualifying session 2
ROS is first out of the pits
No word on the investigation into HAM running wide
ROS lets SAI past as the Mercedes takes a second warm up lap
SAI 1:37.652
PER 1:37.282
ROS 1:35.337
(HAM P2)
Thumbs up from the pit wall, and VET is released from the garage
Commentator says HAM will see the race stewards after Qualifying
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are HUL, GUT and no time from VET, RAI, MAS, BOT
HAM has just gone out again!?
Ferraris go P3 and P4
Williams still on warm up laps
HAM back in the pits
Something flapping around in RIC’s cockpit! His right mirror?
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are HUL, BUT, KVY, ALO, GRO, GUT
ALO up to P12 but not through to Q3
BUT P11
KVY P10, relegating SAI
Middle of the grid: SAI, BUT, HUL, ALO, GRO, GUT

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between ROS, HAM, VET, RAI, BOT, MAS, PER, VES, RIC & KVY
HAM is out of his car! It’s up on stilts, being worked on – that’s not a good sign!
Apparently it’s a turbo-charger (MGUH) problem
Interview with HAM – he sounds very deflated
RAI 1:42.514
RIC P2
KVY P3
BOT P4
ROS P5
MAS P5
PER 1:37.600
VET 1:36.259
(VES yet to set a time)
RAI P2
RIC P3
KVY P4
BOT P2
ROS 1:35.417
MAS P5
5mins left; order is ROS, VET, BOT, RAI, MAS, RIC, KVY, PER, VES, HAM
Quick stop for RAI – new tyres and back on track
ROS locks up, runs wide; aborts the lap and heads for the pits
VES P8
Chequered flag
BOT still P3
PER P7
RAI P4
MAS P5
VES P9
VET P2
RIC P6
KVY P8
Front of the grid: ROS, VET*, BOT, RAI, MAS, RIC, PER, KVY, VES, HAM*

Provisional grid: ROS, BOT, RAI, MAS, RIC, PER, VET*, KVY, VES, HAM*, SAI, BUT, HUL, ALO, GRO, GUT, MAG, PAL, NAS, WEH, HAR, ERI.
*VET will start P7 thanks to the gearbox penalty
*HAM still has to visit the stewards about running wide in Q1

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