Raikkonen blames errors for missing Russian Grand Prix front row
Kimi Raikkonen blamed his own mistakes for his failure to get the Ferrari Formula 1 team on the front row for the Russian Grand Prix.
With Lewis Hamilton sidelined by an MGU-H problem and Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel facing a gearbox-change penalty, Raikkonen was potentially Nico Rosberg’s main rival for Sochi pole.
But he was only fourth fastest in Q3 behind Rosberg, Vettel and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, so will start third.
"I ran wide in the last corner but I’d been struggling all weekend to put any decent laps together," said Raikkonen of his last Q3 run.
"It was better in qualifying but I was still fighting with the fronts a bit in a few places.
"It was one of those days I think. The whole weekend I’ve been fighting with the set-up to find it and make the tyres work as we want.
"There’s been a few corners there I’ve been fighting all weekend. I think the last lap was pretty decent but in places it was still not ideal.
"Then I f***** it up in the last corner but it could’ve been an awful lot worse."
VETTEL STILL EYEING PODIUM
Vettel will start from seventh place on Sunday. He was eight tenths of a second slower than Rosberg’s pole time, but is optimistic about what he can salvage in the race.
"When you qualify second, that is where you sort of belong," he said of his podium chances.
"With the penalty, we start further back but we should be quicker than those cars in front.
"It’s not easy to pass, it’s not easy to follow, so we’ll see.
"I would have liked the gap to be a bit smaller, but in Q2 we saw Nico in particular was very strong at getting a lap in.
"A good job from his side. For us it was the maximum."
Ferrari used three engine development tokens for an upgrade prior to Sochi.
Raikkonen played down the effect this would have.
"It’s working as we expect so it’s not the massive things," he said.
"It’s small improvements here and there with the car and the whole package.
"People are very interested – ‘oh you have a new engine’ – but we put new parts on all the time and try to improve all areas so it’s a very normal thing."
Russian Grand Prix – “I think in the race it will be better”
Kimi ‘disappointed’ for last corner error
“The whole weekend has been tricky: for whatever reason, I struggled all the time to put one decent lap together. In qualifying it was a bit better, but I was still fighting with the front end in a few places. It could have been good enough for a second or a third place on the grid, but on my last lap I completely missed the last corner and slid away. Obviously I’m a disappointed with what happened, but considering how difficult it has been, this result it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing. At least we are in third place at the start, we’ll see what happens tomorrow, I think in the race it’s going to be better.”
Rosberg cruises to Russian GP pole, more trouble for Hamilton
Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Russian Grand Prix comfortably, as engine failure sidelined Lewis Hamilton from the qualifying battle for the second Formula 1 race in succession.
Hamilton had a narrow edge over his Mercedes F1 team-mate in the first part of qualifying at Sochi, but was trailing by nearly half a second in Q2 when he suffered a recurrence of the MGU-H failure that ruined his efforts at Shanghai last time out.
That left Hamilton 10th and without a time in Q3, while Rosberg enjoyed a clear path to pole, beating Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to top spot by more than seven tenths of a second.
Compounding Hamilton’s misery, he faces a trip to the stewards to explain why he failed to follow the proper procedure for rejoining from the Turn 2 run-off area after a Q1 mistake.
Rosberg was able to lap comfortably in the 1m35s in Q2 and Q3. He was on for a better lap at the end of Q3 before locking up his brakes and running off track at the end of the long back straight.
Vettel chipped his way into the low 1m36s, but Ferrari and its updated combustion engine had no answer for Mercedes’ impressive pace.
Vettel will start seventh on account of a penalty for changing his gearbox after Friday practice.
That means Williams driver Valtteri Bottas will enjoy his first front row start since the 2014 German GP, after outpacing the second Ferrari of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen by 0.127s.
The second Williams of Felipe Massa was fifth fastest, almost half a second adrift of Bottas, while Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull rounded out the top six.
Sergio Perez impressively split Ricciardo from Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat by going seventh fastest.
Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso lapped 0.124s slower than Kvyat to end up ninth.
A late improvement from Kvyat in the dying moments of Q2 relegated the second Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr to 11th place.
Sainz failed to improve on his final run but remained half a tenth clear of Jenson Button in the better of the two McLaren-Hondas.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was 13th fastest, reckoning a lap that was nearly half a second adrift of Perez in Q2 to be "as good as it gets".
The second McLaren-Honda of Fernando Alonso was 0.036s slower in 14th, ahead of Haas pairing Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez, who were separated by less than a tenth as Grosjean continued to complain about the unpredictability of his car.
The works Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer were more than two tenths away from making the Q2 cut, but separated by less than a tenth in 17th and 18th.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr lay above the cut-off after his first run in Q1, but he went off at the start of his second and failed to improve his time.
The Brazilian wound up just 0.009s shy of Palmer’s time but well clear of Pascal Wehrlein in the best of the Manor-Mercedes.
The second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson seemed set to avoid a back-of-the-grid start after a last-gasp improvement, but Rio Haryanto hit back with a late show of his own to return the struggling Ericsson to the bottom of the pile.
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m37.125s||1.708s|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m37.212s||1.795s|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m37.459s||2.042s|
|9||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m37.583s||2.166s|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m37.652s||–|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m37.771s||–|
Hamilton narrowly pips Rosberg in final Russian GP F1 practice
Lewis Hamilton grabbed top spot with his final fast lap of the third Formula 1 free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion had seemed to lack the pace to depose Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who spent much of the pair’s battle at the top of the timesheets as the low wear and degradation at Sochi allowed drivers to reel off multiple fast laps on each set of rubber.
But while Rosberg opted to pit after completing 22 laps, Hamilton continued for one final attempt on the super-soft rubber that all drivers used to set their fastest times
As was the case throughout much of the session, Hamilton was fastest in sector one, but this time he also set the fastest middle sector and, despite not being able to match Rosberg’s final sector pace, did enough to go fastest by 0.068 seconds.
Sebastian Vettel, who was slowest heading into the last runs after completing heavy fuel work for much of the session as he prepares for his grid penalty, jumped into contention for top spot in the final 10 minutes.
His mighty pace in the second sector briefly suggested he could challenge the Mercedes, but ultimately he was six-tenths down in third.
Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, seven-tenths slower than Vettel, but he could have been faster but for an error at the final corner on what might have been a stronger lap.
Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who both briefly held best of the rest status behind the two Mercedes driver after setting times on their final set of tyres before the Ferrari drivers, ended up fifth and sixth.
Max Verstappen was seventh for Toro Rosso, with Jenson Button a solid eighth after being able to extract better performance out of the super-soft tyres than was the case on Friday.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10, the latter having briefly triggered a virtual safety car after going up the escape road at the Turn 13 right-hander at the end of the back straight and then needing assistance from the marshals to complete his U-turn to rejoin.
Daniel Ricciardo, who held top spot in the early going, ended up 11th but completed a large number of laps, second only to Vettel, in preparation for the race.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m38.133s||1.730s||22|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m38.465s||2.062s||25|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m38.542s||2.139s||18|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m38.622s||2.219s||23|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m39.047s||2.644s||15|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m39.162s||2.759s||16|
Russian Grand Prix – ”Work to do on the set up”
Kimi not entirely happy with handling yet
It was not an ideal day, one of those days you struggle to make the tires work and get the car where you want. I wasn’t doing any proper lap, but today it’s only practice, I’m sure we can improve for tomorrow. Overall I think we just have to work on the set up to make it as we want and then it should be ok. We have a new engine and new parts on the car, so far it has been working well. We wouldn’t use any new thing if we did not expect it to be good.
Sebastian Vettel gets five-place Russian GP grid penalty
Sebastian Vettel has been handed a five-place grid penalty for Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix after Ferrari elected to change his gearbox.
It is believed the gearbox sustained damage in his collision with F1 team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1 at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix.
Following practice and investigations in Russia, Ferrari has decided to change the unit.
It caps a difficult day for the German, who stopped on track 30 minutes into the second session with an electrical problem and did not return.
"It looks like we had an electronics problem which is a bit of a shame because we’re lacking a couple of laps, especially the long run and race trim to see how competitive we are," he said.
"Kimi did the homework for the team so [it’s] not too bad.
"Also in Sochi, we know roughly what to expect so we can still learn a lot from what other people did."
Raikkonen, who finished fourth fastest in second practice, added: "It’s not been an ideal day but from my side, we have to work to make the car the way we want.
"I didn’t get any good proper laps but it was practice."
Ferrari fitted a new upgraded engine to both Vettel and Raikkonen’s car after spending three development tokens.
Speaking about its performance, Raikkonen said: "It’s a new one and we wouldn’t use it if we didn’t expect it to be good."
Lewis Hamilton moves ahead in second Russian Grand Prix practice
Lewis Hamilton ended the opening day of Formula 1 practice for the Russian Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets.
Having lost out to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg during the morning session, Hamilton outpaced the championship leader by 0.867 seconds in the afternoon, with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel splitting the duo in second despite losing track time to an electrical problem.
Hamilton was fastest from early on having outpaced Rosberg when both were on soft-compound Pirellis – although he did have a brief spin at Turn 4 that flat-spotted his tyres and sent him back to the pits. He had two harmless visits to the run-off area at the same corner later in the session.
When the Mercedes duo switched onto the faster super-softs, Hamilton was able to improve by around eight tenths to a 1m37.583s while Rosberg did not gain time.
This was partly because Haas driver Romain Grosjean spun and triggered a yellow-flag zone that Rosberg hit, but it meant the German’s best lap on softs – reckoned to be eight or nine-tenths slower than the super-softs, but offering dramatically different pace gaps from car to car – remained his fastest until he headed out for his second run on softs and was only able to make a small improvement.
Vettel’s best time was just under seven-tenths off Hamilton’s pace, also using super-soft rubber and set before he ground to a halt on the start/finish straight with what he reported as an electrical problem.
The virtual safety car system was deployed to allow the recovery of the Ferrari, which did disrupt the runs of a number of drivers.
Kimi Raikkonen made it a Mercedes/Ferrari top-four lockout by setting fourth-fastest time, over three-tenths slower than Rosberg.
With nobody bothering to run the medium-compound Pirellis thanks to the low rates of degradation and wear, which meant teams have taken few sets to Sochi, drivers set their best times variously on soft and super-soft rubber.
Red Bull pairing Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat ended up fifth and seventh overall, although the Australian’s best time was set on the slower soft compound.
They sandwiched the lead Williams-Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who was 1.6s off the pace having used suer-softs to set his time in common with all but Rosberg and Ricciardo.
Jenson Button was eighth fastest for McLaren ahead of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
Renault’s Kevin Magnussen made his first appearance of the weekend having sat out the morning session in favour of development driver Sergey Sirotkin and was 15th.
That put him two places behind the other driver who sat out practice one, Nico Hulkenberg, who took 13th after stepping aside for Alfonso Celis Jr to drive during the first session.
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was slowest, behind Manor pairing Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein, the latter grinding to a halt after the chequered flag and reporting a loss of power.
PRACTICE TWO TIMES
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m39.084s||1.501s||34|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m39.193s||1.610s||32|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m39.465s||1.882s||37|
|12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m39.501s||1.918s||30|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m39.795s||2.212s||31|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m39.867s||2.284s||38|
Nico Rosberg sets commanding pace in first Russian GP practice
Nico Rosberg continued his imperious Formula 1 form by topping the opening free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver outpaced team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.722 seconds, a surprisingly large advantage given both ran similar programmes using the same Pirelli tyre compounds.
The session also featured the track debut of Red Bull’s aeroscreen cockpit protection concept, which Daniel Ricciardo used for an early installation lap.
During the first 40 minutes of the session, when drivers use one set of tyres that cannot subsequently be run, Hamilton initially set the pace.
While the track was quiet early on, both Mercedes reeled off eight-lap runs on one of their four sets of soft tyres and traded top spot.
Hamilton looked to have prevailed despite losing the rear at Turn 2 and spinning onto the run-off area on his sixth lap, but given the low rates of tyre wear and degradation at the Sochi circuit the battle continued into their second runs.
That allowed Rosberg to hit back, setting a 1m39.097s on his 12th lap to secure top spot -just over two-tenths faster than Hamilton, who could not match that improvement.
Both Mercedes drivers bolted on super-softs for their second runs, with Hamilton unable to get near Rosberg, the latter only briefly having trouble when he ran across the run-off area at Turn 2.
The German set his best time on his 22nd lap of the session and Hamilton had no answer for his pace having only been able to improve on his soft-compound time by 0.458s.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel prevailed in a tight battle for third ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Williams driver Felipe Massa.
Both Ferrari drivers opted to run medium and then soft tyres during the session, compared to the Mercedes strategy of soft then super-soft – meaning the duo were the only drivers on that rubber in the top nine.
Initially, Ricciardo held the position before Vettel jumped ahead of him.
Raikkonen and then Massa, who did not post a time until there was just over 20 minutes remaining thanks to a clutch problem, then had stints in third before Vettel, who had suffered a brief spin at Turn 15 earlier in the session, set a best time 1.048s off Rosberg to secure the position.
Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest behind Ricciardo in the second Williams having been the closest challenger to the Mercedes drivers in the first 40 minutes.
He was able only to find an improvement of less than a tenth of a second on his second set of super-softs, with both Williams drivers opting to use that compound in both parts of the session.
Daniil Kvyat was eighth in the second Red Bull, although he would have improved on his 1m40.218s time had he not spun at the penultimate corner while on a better lap.
Force India driver Sergio Perez, also running super-softs, was ninth with Carlos Sainz Jr 10th and the best non-Ferrari driver using softs.
Jenson Button was the quicker of the McLaren-Honda drivers, setting 11th fastest time on softs after recovering from a spin during the first 40 minutes of running. He ended up just over a tenth faster than Fernando Alonso.
Newly-appointed Renault development driver Sergey Sirotkin was 13th fastest on his second appearance in an F1 practice session, the first having come at the same venue for Sauber in 2014.
He drove Kevin Magnussen’s car, with Alfonso Celis Jr the other non-race driver to appear and ending up slowest after Rio Haryanto was finally able to set a time with four minutes remaining to relegate him to bottom spot.
It was a challenging session for the Manor team, as Haryanto only joined in late on thanks to a technical problem, while Pascal Wehrlein’s car needed a rapid floor change after picking up damage earlier on.
PRACTICE ONE TIMES
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m39.650s||1.523s||24|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer||1m40.218s||2.091s||26|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m40.287s||2.160s||22|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m40.654s||2.527s||21|
|15||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m41.134s||3.007s||22|
|22||Alfonso Celis||Force India/Mercedes||1m43.432s||5.305s||23|
Kimi’s plans to fine-tuning for a ‘nice’ track
“In the first races we had some struggles, but at least we got some points out of it. Our aim is to always do better, having a normal weekend, hopefully with no issues. It is a hard season but we have to keep working and make progress. We know we have things to be done and improved but we have a good package which would allow us to go quite happy in the race weekend. There are small details that can make a big difference in an overall result and we have to get the maximum out of it. We have to improve the areas we know we are not very happy with, making things better and driving better. About what happened in China, it’s not ideal but it’s part of racing and it’s in the past already, and anyway we managed to make a pretty good recovery and it was not a disaster. This track is quite nice. In the past years it has been quite tricky to make the tires work, especially on a short run. Last year the weather was pretty poor. This weekend probably for the first time we are going to have nice weather all the time, hopefully we are going to have a normal practice and go from there, but making fast laps is never easy, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow and move from there.”
Ferrari’s Arrivabene won’t blame Kvyat for Chinese GP incident
Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Maurizio Arrivabene feels there is nothing to gain from apportioning blame in the Chinese Grand Prix collision involving Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat.
Vettel and Raikkonen had to settle for second and fifth in the Shanghai F1 race after coming together at the first corner, with Vettel furiously blaming his Red Bull successor Kvyat for pushing him wide into his team-mate.
Asked if he had the same opinion as Vettel, Arrivabene replied: "I think pointing the finger at somebody isn’t correct.
"Kvyat was doing his race coming into the curve at high speed but Seb and Kimi were doing the same thing in Kvyat’s position.
"Of course if you want to defend your position you move away but unfortunately Kimi was there.
"But this is racing, it’s not monopoly.
"It was an accident. I think they are part of the race but of course when you have your two drivers in a collision with each other it’s not good.
"What can I say more than that?"
While Vettel was adamant Kvyat triggered the collision, he still apologised to Raikkonen and Ferrari for having been part of it.
Asked what Vettel had said to him, Raikkonen replied: "Obviously he said sorry but unfortunately it doesn’t change anything.
"But I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose.
"It’s not ideal for me or for the team but sometimes it goes like that.
"I paid the price for us but it wasn’t a disaster.
"I’d take this over no points, we still made something out of it."
Kimi "gave his best" after start incident
Kimi Raikkonen: "I have no idea of what happened at the start, I suddenly got hit and spun. I had a puncture in the left front tire and a front wing damage, but I managed to get back to the pits. Once I went back on track I found myself more or less in last position, the car felt a bit tricky, but I tried to do my best to charge thorugh the field. At the beginning I struggled a bit, but then I managed to recover some places. Obviously the fifth position is not ideal and not what we were looking for, but after what happened it’s not a disaster. Seb came to apologize to me afterwards and it’s obvious he didn’t run into me on purpose. Unfortunately this does not change things for the race but it’s only the third round of a long season…"
Ferrari’s Raikkonen and Vettel admit mistakes cost them China pole
Ferrari Formula 1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel believe mistakes in qualifying cost the Scuderia a realistic chance of taking Chinese Grand Prix pole position.
The two Ferraris lapped fastest in Q1 and Q2, and Raikkonen sat on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3 at Shanghai, but he ran wide at the penultimate corner on his final lap and ended up third.
Team-mate Vettel made just one run in Q3, which was only quick enough for fourth on the grid, behind Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, which eventually took pole by more than half a second.
Four-time world champion Vettel reckoned Ferrari underperformed at the crucial moment.
"I’m not entirely satisfied with where we qualified," said Vettel.
"I think the first was there, at least P2 was there for grabs, but the lap I had wasn’t good enough.
"I started off on the wrong foot, probably asked too much from the tyres already on the first sector, and from then on I was playing catch up.
"I was confident I could do the same job with just one set. Now I know I couldn’t, because the lap wasn’t as good as it should have been.
"It was not my best lap of the weekend."
Team-mate Raikkonen also felt he threw away a real shot at pole with a repeated error on his crucial qualifying lap, which ended up being only fractionally slower than his previous best.
"I’m quite disappointed with what happened in qualifying," he admitted.
"It was a good lap until Turn 14 at the end of the back straight.
"The previous run on the same corner I ran too deep, and the last one I was quite a bit up on that lap but ran wide at the hairpin.
"It’s a shame as I had a chance to be on the top."
RED BULL IS BEATABLE
Vettel reckons Ferrari’s superior race pace should allow it to recover the ground lost to Ricciardo’s Red Bull in qualifying.
"Around here it’s very important to find the right balance as qualifying progresses and they did that," Vettel added.
"They had a very good day but I think for tomorrow we should be ahead of them again.
"The car feels good, the tyre degradation could come our way. I think we have a good chance of finishing higher than fourth."