Grand Prix of Russia – Qualifying

Following the Italian GP VER was handed a three grid-place penalty for causing the collision with HAM. [FIA] The expectation is Red Bull will take this opportunity to put a series of upgrades on VER’s car, wiping out the penalty.
Ferrari have said they will put a new engine in LEC’s car, so he’ll also have grid penalties. [BBC]

News:

  • “Aston Martin start work on new F1 factory and wind tunnel campus at Silverstone base” [FIA]
  • “Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is returning to Formula 1 with the Aston Martin team.” [BBC]
  • Driver line-up for 2022: VET and STR confirmed by Aston Martin; SCH and MAZ confirmed by Haas
  • “The Monaco Grand Prix is to undergo a historic change of format next season by changing to a three-day weekend. Traditionally, Monaco has been held over four days, with the first practice day on Thursday, and Friday a free day for Formula 1 teams and drivers. But to add flexibility to F1’s calendar choices, the event will follow the same format as other races from 2022.” [BBC]
  • 2022 calendar leaked [racefans]
  • “The inaugural Miami Grand Prix will be held on 6-8 May next year.” [BBC]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:34.427), HAM, VER, LEC, VET, GAS, SAI, NOR, PER, ALO
  2. FP2: BOT (1:33.593), HAM, GAS, NOR, OCO, VER, SAI, ALO, VET, LEC
    Air temperature 19°C; track 32°C
    It’s dry today but the forecast for tomorrow is 100% chance of rain
    RIC will not run for a while – the McLaren mechanics are busy replacing his power unit
    LEC 1:35.508
    BOT 1:35.298
    LEC 1:34.925 on soft tyres
    Red Bull confirm a series of power unit upgrades for VER, so he’ll start at the back of the grid – will Mercedes now do the same for HAM?
    ALO 1:34.762
    HAM pits; thumps his front jackman! HAM apologises, checks he’s ok, and says the “magic” button was on again
    BOT 1:33.593
    LEC spins; keeps his Ferrari out of the wall; reports “the tyres feel very weird”
    GIO spins in the same place, smacks the barrier; he’s broken the rear wing of his Alfa Romeo – red flags, session stopped
    MAZ has been fined for speeding in the pit lane
    NOR runs wide, bounces over the kerbs
    Radio from VER, “It’s impossible to pass with my top speed”
    Huge lock-up by SCH
    PER runs wide in Turn 2, weaves through the barriers
    GAS has lost his front wing – replay shows he clipped a big kerb at the apex of Turn 2
  3. FP3: Cancelled due to the weather [FIA]

Half an hour before (the scheduled time for) Qualifying, race director Michael Masi says they’re aiming to run all the Quali sessions today. The rain seems to be easing off (although the forecast has another heavy downpour later) so the hope is to complete Quali before losing the light.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 13°C; track 18°C; wind 3km/hr; humidity 76%; it’s overcast but not currently raining
First cars leave the pit lane – they’re on intermediates, except ALO on full wets
They won’t have DRS as the session has been declared “wet”
SkySports report it’s started to drizzle in the pit lane
Radio for OCO, “No significant rain expected for the rest of Q1”
GAS 1:51.519 (for comparison, fastest time in FP2 was BOT’s 1:33.593)
LEC 1:50.292
Radio for LAT telling him to expect more rain
NOR 1:49.872
GAS 1:49.218
GIO spins; he’s struggling to get his Alfa Romeo pointing the right way – yellow flag – he’s underway again
BOT 1:48.100
HAM 1:46.937
VER is out of his car without setting a time; he knows he’s starting at the back of the grid due to penalties
PER’s Red Bull twitches as he tries to put the power down
NOR has a big twitch out of the final turn
Brief yellow as BOT runs wide in Turn 2
PER 1:46.455
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are RAI, MAZ, GIO, SCH, VER
(ALO P3)
SCH P17
GIO P18
Brief yellow – PER in T2
BOT 1:46.396
RAI P15 pushes RUS to P16
RUS P15, RAI P16
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are RAI, SCH, GIO, MAZ, VER
RAI P16
SCH P17
HAM 1:45.992
MAZ P19
Back of the grid: RAI, SCH, GIO, MAZ, VER

Race control: Turn 2 incident involving RIC and STR will be investigated after the session
Apparently RIC exited the pit lane just as STR was starting a quick lap

Williams have confirmed LAT will take some new power unit components so he’ll receive grid-place penalties, same as LEC

Qualifying session 2
Radio from GAS complaining he has no grip
GAS 1:46.671
NOR 1:46.254
HAM 1:46.096
BOT catches a brake and has to escape across Turn 2
BOT 1:45.506
HAM 1:45.406
5mins left; bottom 5 are RIC, RUS, TSU, LAT*, LEC*
*LEC and LAT have penalties for engine changes so don’t expect them to set a time
TSU P11
RUS is on his 4th and final set of inters
RIC P10, relegating SAI to P11
RUS P11
GAS fuming at being held up by a car on their cooldown lap
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are RUS, SAI, TSU, LAT, LEC
HAM 1:45.129
SAI P9, GAS P11
GAS P11
RUS P9, VET P11
TSU P13
Middle of the grid: VET, GAS, TSU, LAT*, LEC* (*penalties to be applied)

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, BOT, ALO, NOR, PER, OCO, STR, RIC, RUS and SAI
Will anyone risk dry tyres?
Everyone leaving the pits on inters
Radio from RUS, “Prepare the slicks”
BOT 1:44.710
HAM 1:44.050
OCO P3
PER P4
STR P3
RIC P5
NOR P2
SAI P7
RUS pits without setting a time
ALO P4
Order after the first run: HAM, NOR, BOT, ALO, PER, STR, OCO, RIC, SAI, RUS
Everyone switching to dry tyres – all going with softs, of course
HAM hits the wall on his way into the pit lane!
New nose for HAM, but they have to move his out the way so they can service BOT
RUS P10
Radio from HAM, complaining he can’t get temperature into the tyres
Chequered flag
STR P4
OCO P7
SAI 1:42.510
BOT P4
RIC P3
NOR 1:41.993
ALO P5
RUS P3
HAM spun, tapped the tyre wall and stopped
Front of the grid: NOR, SAI, RUS, HAM, RIC, ALO, BOT, STR, PER, OCO
SAI spun on his in-lap!

Interviews:
NOR: “It feels amazing, I don’t know what to say. it was a manic session. Extremely happy, thanks to the team as well, they’ve done an amazing job. That crossover session, the lap before I was two seconds down and wasn’t very confident we could improve. I risked quite a bit and it paid off.”
SAI: “Right from the beginning, a very tricky qualifying. We did a very good strategy, a pretty strong lap. Unfortunately I was one of the first to cross the line so I wasn’t able to exploit the track [improvements]. We ill put on a fight and try and have some fun. Starting P2, the dirty side, it’s really penalising.”
RUS: “I mean it’s crazy, second time in the top three, the team have done an amazing job. There was one dry line and if you were just a centimetre wide, you were on the wet stuff and off. Yesterday our high fuel pace was one of our best of the year, so I’ve got to go for the podium again, nothing to lose.”

Provisional grid: NOR, SAI, RUS, HAM, RIC, ALO, BOT, STR, PER, OCO, VET, GAS, TSU, LAT*, LEC*, RAI, SCH, GIO, MAZ, VER
*penalties to be applied

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]

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