Vettel heads up first all-Ferrari front-row since 2008

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen lock out the front row of the grid for Ferrari, a first for the Italian marque since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel will start Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix from pole position after Ferrari edged out Formula 1 rival team Mercedes in a tight qualifying battle in Sochi.

Vettel and Raikkonen combined to secure Ferrari’s first front-row lock-out since the 2008 French Grand Prix, being separated by just 0.059 seconds at the final stage of qualifying.

After trying different tyre warm-up strategies in FP3, Mercedes opted for an additional warm-up lap, only for both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to fall short with their initial efforts. With Vettel also having a scruffy lap, it was Raikkonen who found himself sitting on provisional pole ahead of the final Q3 runs.

A mistake from Raikkonen on his final lap cost him a chance at pole, with Vettel improving his time to edge ahead. Bottas was also unable to improve, leaving him third, while Hamilton finished half a second back in fourth place, giving Ferrari a front-row lock-out.

Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull’s charge in fifth place ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa and team-mate Max Verstappen, who struggled to seventh. Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault, while Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10.

Toro Rosso struggled to match its early-season qualifying form as both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat dropped out in Q2, finishing 11th and 13th respectively. Lance Stroll split the pair for Williams, finishing 12th, while Kevin Magnussen was Haas’ lead driver in 14th after a brake change overnight.

Fernando Alonso once again failed to make it through to Q3 for McLaren, struggling to 15th overall on the ultra-soft tyre, 3.3 seconds off the pace. Alonso vented his frustration with the Honda power unit over the radio by calling it “unbelievable”.

Jolyon Palmer’s difficult weekend took another twist in qualifying when a run over the kerb at Turn 4 sent him spinning into the wall at the end of Q1, leaving him 16th on the grid for Sunday’s race.

The resultant yellow flags prevented many of his rivals from improving, with Stoffel Vandoorne losing a chance to climb out of Q1 for the first time, finishing 17th. Pascal Wehrlein also suffered a spin in his Sauber at the end of Q1, leaving him 18th ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson, while Romain Grosjean was also caught out by the yellow flags, finishing 20th for Haas amid ongoing brake issues


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