Grand Prix of Russia – Qualifying

There are still 6 races left of the season, so HAM’s 40 point lead over VET in the Drivers’ Championship standings is far from a comfortable gap.

In F1 news since Singapore:

  • The draft 2019 calendar was announced; there are 21 races listed, including Hockenheim and Suzuka [autosport]
  • Sauber announced current Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will partner RAI next season [F1]
    ERI will remain with Sauber, but reduced to being the third driver [racefans]
  • GRO is just 3 points away from an automatic one-race ban following his penalty for failing to observe blue flags in the previous race [F1]
    Meanwhile Haas’ appeal against being disqualified from the Italian GP is set to be heard in November [F1]
    Lastly in Haas news, they’ve confirmed they’re keeping GRO and MAG for next season [F1]
  • F1 have separated Live Timing from their clunky new app into a standalone app – hopefully it will suck less than their app did for the past couple of races [pitpass] [autosport]
  • Red Bull are expecting grid penalties as a result of downgrading from the troublesome C-spec engine (which kept dropping into neutral when VER ran it in Singapore) to the B-spec [autosport]

Tyre compound choices this weekend: soft (yellow), ultrasoft (purple) and hypersoft (pink)

Haas had to request two new sets of tyres after a faulty tyre warmer started a fire and destroyed two sets earmarked for MAG [F1]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: VET (1:34.488), VER, HAM, BOT, RIC
    There was a line of 5 cars waiting to leave the pit lane at the start of FP1 – they all had engine changes and knew they’d incur penalties, and the rule says the penalties are applied in the order in which they occur, which is deemed to be when the car crosses the timing beam at pit out (regardless of whether it’s the regular driver or the Friday driver behind the wheel)
    Radio for OCO – “why are you not going faster?” – ouch!
    RIC is in the Red Bull garage with smoke pouring out of the back of his car!
  2. FP2: HAM (1:33.385), BOT, VER, RIC, VET
    VER – “It’s not easy to drive, that’s the problem”
    VET spins and resumes at Turn 13
  3. FP3: HAM (1:33.067), BOT, VET, RAI, VER
    GRO was convinced there was a problem with the front suspension
    VER – “I box, this is useless”

Penalties before Quali: RIC, VER, HAR, GAS and ALO all have engine change-related penalties [F1]

Air temperature 23°C; track 37°C

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Good news: the new F1 timing app does at least work! Major improvement compared to the previous 2 races
I spoke too soon – the timing data is ok but the commentary page is blank
STR 1:49.271
MAG 1:34.078
VET 1:33.534
(LEC P4)
(GAS P4)
BOT 1:33.170
HAM backed off – he caught a slow car in a corner having gone purple (fastest) in sectors 1 and 2; finishes P10
Piece of bodywork flies off HAR’s right wing
BOT 1:32.964
HAM 1:32.825
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are SIR, VAN, STR; no time yet from VER, RIC
Both Red Bulls are on track; RIC goes P3, VER P4, ahead of both Ferrari
HAM 1:32.410
90secs left; bottom 5 are HAR, ALO, SIR, VAN, STR
HUL fighting to keep his car on track – that Renault is ugly!
Chequered flag
SIR has spun, tapped the wall
Back of the grid: HAR, ALO, SIR, VAN, STR

Qualifying session 2
Discussion in HAM’s garage after he leaves the pits – is there an issue?
HAM and BOT are on ultrasoft tyres
BOT 1:32.744
HAM 1:32.595
(RAI P3)
(VET P3)
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are VER, RIC, GAS, SAI, HUL none of whom have set a time
HUL is out of his Renault, and teammate SAI is about to do the same
Interesting tactic – HUL and SAI will start P11 and P12, with a free tyre choice
Middle of the grid: VER, RIC, GAS, SAI, HUL however VER, RIC & GAS are all getting penalties

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, BOT, VET, RAI, LEC, GRO, OCO, MAG, PER and ERI
Interesting stat from Sky Sports: the person who topped Q2 hasn’t then taken pole for the past 5 races
OCO 1:33.413
BOT 1:31.528
HAM P2
RAI P3
PER P5
MAG P5
GRO P7
VET P3
LEC P6
After first run, order is BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, OCO, LEC, MAG, PER, GRO, ERI
Everyone on track for a final run
Chequered flag
BOT 1:31.387
HAM abandons his lap; heads for the pits
VET P3
RAI P4
MAG P5
Front of the grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, MAG, OCO, LEC, PER, GRO, ERI

Provisional grid: BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, MAG, OCO, LEC, PER, GRO, ERI, VER*, RIC*, GAS*, SAI, HUL, HAR*, ALO*, SIR, VAN, STR
*penalties to be applied for engine changes

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