SOCHI (Russia) • Nico Rosberg yesterday claimed pole position for the Russian Grand Prix, topping the time sheets unchallenged by his main rival, Lewis Hamilton, whose bad luck continued after a mechanical problem cost him the chance to take part in the final session.
Rosberg recorded a time of 1min 35.417sec - for his second pole of the season and the 24th of his career, equalling Niki Lauda - in front of the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Indeed so dominant was the Mercedes, Rosberg hopped out of his car after just one run, leaving his rivals to play catch-up on their second laps.
"I was quite confident with that lap," said Rosberg, whose best effort was a hefty 0.706 seconds faster than Vettel's. "I was fairly sure that it was going to be enough, but you never know, so I was glad when Sebastian crossed the line that it was good enough.
"I didn't know about Lewis, I was focused on myself," he added. "From Q2 onwards it felt awesome, but an F1 race is never easy, the opposition is still there so we still need to keep focused and get the job done."
RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX GRID
1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari
4 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull
6 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India
7 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari
8 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Red Bull
9 Max Verstappen (Ned) Toro Rosso
10 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes
12 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren
14 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren
21 Rio Haryanto (Ina) Manor
Hamilton took no part in Q3 after he suffered from the same MGU-H hybrid system failure that had cost him in Shanghai and forced him to start from the back of the grid.
"It's the second engine that I took at the last race and the same failure as in the last race," the British Mercedes driver said. "I went back out in Q2 at the end to get a feel of the lap and I lost the same power that I lost in China. There's nothing I can do. But I never give up."
He may yet have to take a grid penalty if the problem requires a new power unit or gearbox to be fitted. But, if the hybrid component can be replaced alone, he will be starting in 10th place.
Hamilton was also under investigation for going off track, when he appeared to cut the corner into turn two during Q1.
Vettel, who had stopped on the track during the practice session, is expected to start from seventh on the grid because he has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on his Ferrari.
"I think for us it was a good recovery but I would have liked the gap to be smaller," he said. "Nico is very strong - but we have gained from what happened to Lewis. And I am starting, at least, from the clean side of the track.
"I am not frustrated with Ferrari - this happens and it is all part of racing," he added.
Finn Bottas outpaced compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari to qualify third - and start second alongside Rosberg.
Raikkonen will start in third, alongside Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Sergio Perez of Force India and local hero Daniil Kvyat who was eighth in the second Red Bull.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was ninth for Toro Rosso. Manor's Rio Haryanto was knocked out in Q1 and will start on the 21st spot on the grid.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS
F1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX RACE
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