Russian Grand Prix – Qualifying


F1 has been fairly quiet since the Tuscan Grand Prix. I updated the points standings: HAM is 55 points clear of BOT, who in turn is 25 points ahead of VER; Mercedes are 152 ahead of Red Bull, and Ferrari are 6th in the Constructors’ table.

“Lewis Hamilton says he expects to be told he cannot wear a T-shirt bearing anti-racism messages on the podium.” [BBC] The FIA need to clamp down on that – if they don’t, can anyone wear any political slogan on the podium? Do the FIA want to decide which messages are ok and which aren’t? The only solution is to ban all non-team clothing.

Talking of politics, the FIA announced that former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali will “become President and CEO of Formula 1 in January 2021, with Chase Carey, the current Chairman and CEO, moving to the role of non-executive Chairman.” Hmmm, another ex-Ferrari guy – that doesn’t look at all suspicious. There’s already Jean Todt (who was Ferrari team principal then CEO) who is FIA President, and Ross Brawn (Ferrari’s technical director then team principal) who is concurrently FIA managing director, motorsports and technical director.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:34.923), RIC, VER, PER, STR
    SAI spun in Turn 7 and wrecked his McLaren’s rear wing but managed to limp back to the pits as the Virtual Safety Car was deployed
    KVY spun his Alpha Tauri but had plenty of room to recover safely
    GRO and LEC seemed to be having a private battle
    GRO lost the Haas’ rear in Turn 13 and spun
    Then it was LAT’s turn to spin, however he hit the tyre wall quite hard causing a brief red flag period
    VER had a rant about RUS, complaining the Williams was in front of him
    HAM finished down in P19 after flat-spotting his tyres
  2. FP2: BOT (1:33.519), HAM, RIC, SAI, NOR
    Another big lockup for HAM, just keeping it out of the wall at Turn 13
    STR spun in T13
    NOR locked up and ran across T2
    VER spun in T14
  3. FP3: HAM (1:33.279), BOT, SAI, OCO, PER

Air temperature 27°C; track 36°C; overcast, showers near but not over the circuit

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
RUS is the first to leave the pit lane – he’s on medium compound tyres, but as others start to leave the pits they’re all on softs
RUS locks up, abandons his lap
Radio from RUS reporting “the track is very, very different”
BOT 1:32.656
(HAM P2)
HAM’s lap time deleted for running wide at Turn 2
Lap times also deleted for GAS, MAG, LAT
HAM stays out and goes for another fast lap; goes P2
The Renault pair of RIC and OCO are on mediums but everyone else on softs
4mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are OCO, RAI, GIO, GRO, LAT
Everyone heading out for a final run, including BOT
Lots of bunching up as they jostle for a gap
RAI spins in Turn 2, pulls off-track
Chequered flag
OCO P3; RUS P16
MAG P17
(KVY P3)
VET P13, GIO P16
RUS P13, GRO P16
Back of the grid: GRO, GIO, MAG, LAT, RAI
(LEC was P14, VET P15)
Radio from RUS “Q2, I’ve missed you! Good job guys.”

Qualifying session 2
Track temp has dropped to 32°C; there are reports of a few drops of rain on the back straight
Everyone quick to leave the pits, wanting to set a time before the rain
BOT, HAM, VER on mediums; everyone else on softs
Radio from PER reporting “some drops of rain”
BOT 1:33.056
HAM 1:32.085
(SAI P2)
HAM’s lap time deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 18
RIC 1:32.218
Radio from HAM suggesting keeping the same tyre on and go again; “Negative, we have another new set to go”
Radio for BOT telling him he’ll go again “to cover track evolution”
4mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are ALB, STR, RUS, VET, HAM
Mercedes send HAM and BOT out on fresh mediums
(BOT P2)
VET into the wall – Ferrari debris all across the track – red flag, Q2 suspended
Replay shows he lost the tail into Turn 4
Radio for HAM confirming “We’ve still got time for an out lap”
There’s 2m15s left of Q2
Order is RIC, BOT, SAI, PER, NOR, GAS, VER, OCO, LEC, KVY, ALB, STR, RUS, VET, HAM
Cars are already lining up at the pit exit even though there’s no official notice of the time of the restart
HAM is still in the garage, so he’ll be at least 8th in line
HAM is sent out of the garage – he’s on new softs
Race control say Q2 restart will be in 2mins – that’s a long wait, with tyres getting colder
STR is pushed out of the queue and back into the Racing Point garage
Pit lane lights turn green
VER overtakes teammate ALB
HAM is told he needs to “muscle it past these cars” but his cold tyres lose grip into Turn 2 and he runs wide
Chequered flag – HAM just makes it in time to start a flying lap
ALB P7, KVY P11
HAM P4, LEC P11
Middle of the grid: LEC, KVY, STR, RUS, VET
Replay of HAM backing off to give himself a gap for his quick lap and Bono on the radio, “Need to go! Need to go!”
He crossed the start line with 1.2sec before the chequered flag came out

Top 10 shootout is between RIC, BOT, SAI, HAM, PER, NOR, GAS, ALB, VER and OCO

Qualifying session 3
Another queue waiting for the lights to change
OCO 1:33.117
GAS P2
RIC 1:32.364
SAI P2
NOR P5
BOT 1:32.184
HAM 1:31.391
ALB P6
PER P4
VER P3
Order after the first run: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, PER, SAI, OCO, ALB, GAS, NOR
HAM has to swerve as Renault release OCO almost into the side of the Mercedes
BOT P2
OCO P5
HAM 1:31.304
GAS P7
NOR P7
Chequered flag
RIC P4
SAI P6
PER P3
ALB P10
VER P2
Front of the grid: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, RIC, SAI, OCO, NOR, GAS, ALB

HAM will start the race on softs but VER and BOT will be on mediums

Interviews:
HAM: “The session was hard work, it was horrible, heart in your mouth. I got the time taken away, the first time I’ve gone wide there all weekend. Ultimately I’m starting on the soft tyre which is not good. I’m starting on pole and here is the worst pole with the drag with the cars”
VER: “We were struggling to find the right balance, I wasn’t happy. In Q3 on the final run, it was not mad. To be second on the grid I did not expect”
BOT: “Actually a pretty good place to start, and I’m on the right tyres. I really think I have an advantage with the medium tyres so still all to play for”

Provisional grid: HAM, VER, BOT, PER, RIC, SAI, OCO, NOR, GAS, ALB, LEC, KVY, STR, RUS, VET, GRO, GIO, MAG, LAT, RAI

Sky report HAM has been summoned by the race stewards for an infringement at Turn 2

[2020 calendar] [2020 line-up]