Sebastian Vettel grabbed his second pole position for Ferrari and their first since the Singapore Grand Prix in 2015 to end Mercedes' front row dominance at the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday (29 April). Kimi Raikkonen's second place made it Ferrari's first font row lockout since the French Grand Prix in 2008 when the Finn led the way with then teammate Felipe Massa.
The Silver Arrows team have been dominant on Saturdays in recent seasons and it is the first time since the race in Singapore in 2015 that there is no Mercedes car on the front row. Valtteri Bottas was not far behind in third place with the top three covered by less than a tenth of a second. Lewis Hamilton had a dreadful qualifying session and struggled with his car all through. The three-time world champion could only manage fourth, almost half a second behind his teammate.
Ferrari continued their good from throughout the weekend that saw them top all three practice sessions. They displayed strong race pace during FP2 on Friday making them favourites going into the race. Raikkonen looked poised to take his first pole since 2008 after he led after the first run in Q3 and looked on course to improve his time in the second run. But a mistake ruined his lap in the final turn before he was beaten by his teammate, who was the only one to improve in the second run.
The Ferrari and Mercedes cars were in a league of their own as the next best. Daniel Ricciardo in fifth qualified over 1.7 seconds behind the leader. Red Bull have always struggled at Sochi and they will expect to be closer at other tracks. Felipe Massa continued his good form with the Williams to out qualify the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen to sixth place.
Renault's Nico Hulkenburg got one over his former team Force India after he qualified in eighth place ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, who rounded out the top 10.
Where to watch live
The race starts at 1pm BST (Sunday) with Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD providing live TV coverage. Real-time Internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – P1: "I think it's just great. We had had a very good run also yesterday and this morning, and the car was phenomenal. So there's no real secret to today's result, it's just the fact that if you get along with the car you find the rhythm and know what to expect. We knew it would be very tight against the Mercedes, it could have gone the other way, but I am very happy that we locked out the front row for the team.
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) – P2: " Generally, it has been a very straightforward weekend: we have been happier with the car, set-up wise, since the beginning and when you start well it's easier to work and improve here and there. This first row is great for the team, obviously I would rather be in front, but this is not an easy track to get a good lap. I'm happy to take second place, it's a lot better that it has been so far this year
Valtteri Bottas (Williams) – P3: "I think we can see Ferrari were quicker today. We were close in the end, but not close enough. All weekend they've had the upper hand and they've managed to extract more out of the tyres. They are looking very strong here and, as we've seen so far this year, Ferrari have a good race pace and we expect it to be the same tomorrow
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – P4: I just wasn't quick enough today. It was all in the last sector, I was losing half a second there. I've been struggling there all weekend with the balance and it's been tough to utilise the tyres. We'll go back to the drawing board tonight and try and improve. Ferrari did a great job. They look quick on race pace and my race runs weren't great yesterday, so it's going to be tough.
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) – P5: "I don't think the practice session timings were completely representative of our pace and I felt like we were always a bit better than the timing screen showed but we hadn't quite put it all together. In Q1 and Q2 we were trying to circulate and build temperature in the tyres but in Q3 we went for it and decided just to do one push lap which seemed to work so I'm glad we chose to do that. I'm pretty happy."
Top 10 results of qualifying session from the Sochi Autodrom, Russia:
|5||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||1:34.905|
|7||MAX VERSTAPPEN||RED BULL RACING||1:35.161|
|9||SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA||1:35.337|
|10||ESTEBAN OCON||FORCE INDIA||1:35.430|