Straight-line speed outperformed the AMG Mercedes team in qualifying today at Sochi as Charles Leclerc took his fourth pole position in a row.
Team mate Seb Vettel finished third for a second row start having his young team mate and arch rival on the front row in front of him.
Early in the qualifying Alex Albon crashed and the session was red flagged. It was then we could anticipate strategies would have to change with a delay on track.
Once they returned the pace was fast from Ferrari with Leclerc the only driver to enter the 1:31’s. The next four cars were at best in the 1:32’s followed by the next five drivers in Q3 with 1:33’s across an average of 18.4 laps per driver in Q3.
Sochi has a very long front main straight so the start of race to turn 1 should be exciting with fuel loads to the maximum along with tyre selection likely to be medium.
Leclerc has a milestone to reminisce on as the last time we saw a driver take four pole positions in a row in a season was back in 2000 and 2001 with Michael Schumacher. At that time Charles Leclerc was three years old.
Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari were dominating the seasons back then after some tougher seasons in the late nineties. As 2019 comes closer to the season end Leclerc has out-qualified Sebastian Vettel nine times since Montreal.
|4||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:33.368||1:32.634||1:32.310||15|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:34.184||1:33.807||1:33.222||20|
|8||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:34.201||1:33.725||1:33.301||20|
|9||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||1:34.283||1:33.643||1:33.517||19|
|11||10||Pierre Gasly||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:34.456||1:33.950||13|
|12||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:34.336||1:33.958||14|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:34.755||1:34.037||14|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:33.889||1:34.082||13|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:34.287||1:34.233||14|
|16||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:34.840||8|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:35.356||8|
|18||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:36.474||8|
|19||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:39.197||4|
|NC||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||0|
Q1 107% time – 1:39.544
Note – Verstappen, Albon and Gasly each penalised 5 grid places for use of additional power unit elements. Kvyat and Kubica required to start race from back of grid due to multiple power unit element changes. Kvyat races at stewards’ discretion after failing to set a qualifying time. Results source F1.com