#F1 Qualifying Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX


Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Ambient 16° Track 30° Humidity 73% Wind 1.0 m/s

A hazy day in Sochi as the cameras carefully documented the Beauty and Nature that surround Sochi, while carefully ignoring the concrete slab monoliths that dominate the late Soviet aesthetic. 5 grid spot penalty for Vettel put the pressure squarely on Kimi’s shoulders, but problems with his ERS pre-quali likely did not help his focus. The problems continued at Haas as well with getting the tyres into the performance window continued to plague the upstart American team. On the bright side, Macca were feeling a bit cocky about their chances of making Q3, quite a lowering of expectations from chasing championships it must be said. Though given their current fortunes, not a bad shout.

Up until Q3 the clear stars of quali were a bollard and a wing mirror. The bollard, installed Friday after a drivers meeting at the behest of Charles White, Esq. (OK I made that up) who was unhappy at the behaviour of drivers who missed T2. He therefore required that drivers who missed T2 to go round the bollard, being of the school of make stuff up without thinking things through school of regulation writing. Unfortunately for Lewis he went wide through T2 in such a way that even Paul di Resta on the Sky Pad admitted he would have had little to no chance to get round the bollard.

So although he backed off that lap anyway, it was off to the Headmaster’s office for Lewis at the conclusion of quali to see if he was to be sat in the Naughty Corner for ignoring the race director.

Aside from that, he twice bested his teammate Rosberg for fastest laps, and looked to be in good form for pole, owning S1 and S2 whilst Nico had the goods in S3. Mercedes also featured a 2 lap outlap strategy the purpose of which was not disclosed, but likely meant to help the tyres last longer in the race and/or get them perfectly into the operating window.

Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Williams and McLaren waited till the session was almost half done to hit the track and once we had the full picture, not surprisingly it was the usual suspects up front, Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams, with Macca looking a bit racy.

Nasr, Palmer, Magnussen, Wehrlein, Haryanto and Ericsson were all left without chairs as the final minute ticked off and despite their best efforts, not a one was able to find a place at the table.

Q2 starred Ricciardo’s wing mirror coming loose around 300km/h in the closing minutes of the session, and flapping up into his cockpit. He wrestled with it for a brief moment before giving up and finishing his hot lap with the mirror firmly in his field of vision, a stellar bit of driving from the Aussie in what was otherwise a pedestrian effort from Red Bull.

Also playing on the celestial plane was Rosberg. Although Mercedes started with the Q1 playbook, Lewis besting Rosberg’s time by a tenth or so, on the 2nd run Nico just smashed it, with a remarkable 1:35.337s lap that left Hamilton a rather ominous 0.5s adrift. Furthering the ominousity was Lewis coming back out on a new set of tyres and not even beginning to set something like a competitive time as the clock for Q2 ran down.

Ferrari and Willams et al, continued the strategy of waiting halfway through the session to get started with more or less the results you’d expect, Macca on the bubble and Williams and Ferrari straight through, though nowhere near Mercedes.

It was left to Kvyat to create that last minute drama as with the Checkers flying, he was on a mission to escape the drop zone, whilst Button was desperately trying to nail down that coveted last spot in P10, with Sainz furiously defending.

Once the dust cleared it was yet again a failure, though a qualified one for McLaren as they definitely appeared to have added some pace, but just not quite as much as their competitors. Sainz’ valiant effort fell short as well, and it was the hometown(ish) boy, Kvyat, snatching the last pass to Q3.

Speaking of Q3, it opened with the rather disheartening news that Hamilton’s engine had decided to bugger off to the shores of the Black Sea for some beluga caviar and sunbathing. Actually, it turns out that the MGU-H was once again borked due to insulation issues, which would be exactly the thing that happened in China. Yes, EXACTLY. Which, no doubt will be causing little beads of sweat to break out on the brow of Paddy Lowe, as the responsibility for solving this issue lies squarely on his diminutive frame. Regardless, it had yet to be settled whether the issue could be solved or whether Lewis’ would need a new ENGINE (dammit, I’m tired of calling it a PU) presumably starting him in pitlane, as the lessons of China would discourage another back of the grid start.

So despite the seeming lack of drama, there was still much to play for given Seb’s 5 spot penalty and the missing Mercedes. But it was not to be for Ferrari’s Finn, as he was unable to put together the kind of lap he needed. To make matters worse, he left the door open for Bottas, who put in a stocking lap to go P3 after the first set of runs. This will surprise no one who remembers him almost stealing pole from Mercedes, except for his tyres which ran out of grip 2 corners too soon.

The second round of runs saw Rosberg on an all or nothing lap that turned out to be nothing when he smoked his tyres and wet straight on at T13. Still, there was no threat at all from any of the other runners so he had nothing to lose but a set of Super Softs he didn’t really need anyway.

Raikkonen v. Bottas round 2 was the duel to watch with Bottas again emerging victorious and no doubt lots of Italo-Canadian curses being muttered back in Maranello as despite Ferrari’s “progress” they are failing to replicate last season’s results.

A late night is in store for Mercedes’s strategists no doubt and if they put their thinking caps on, it could be as interesting as pitting Lewis lap 1 to start on some Soft tyres and run in clean pure air as long as possible, especially should he wind up starting at the back. Looking at FP2 lap times, it was also interesting to note that Ricciardo on 20 lap old Softs was lapping almost a second faster than Lewis on 16 lap old SuperSofts. Usual fuel load caveats apply.

In any event, with Lewis and Seb both out of place and with Williams starting on the front row (w00t) it’s possible that the race tomorrow might actually be interesting. Have fun discussing that…

Thanks for stopping by and play nice in the comments!


34 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX

    • Really? No team would scrap points this early in the season. Lewis had a rough cut of the green this time probably down to the knock at the last race as these things really don’t like getting slammed. Seb has the same luck this time around and as Matt said in the write-up,’its going to spice up the race’ tin foil hats not needed at the moment 😉

  1. Ok first things first. Thank you matt. Funny as ever. And I needed it. F*ck*ng Russian track is not my cup of tea. Fell asleep in Q1. Woke up in q2. Had to rewind to know what the fuz was about. Fell asleep again. Had to rewind again to see what happened to Lewis. Couldn’t be bothered so watched the rest with a half eye open and the rest in dreamland 😂

    • I hope it was a good dream! I managed to slip into dream land during the last WEC race and I swear there was a Prius leading at some point.

      • Hahah. You mean nightmare? I dreamed about work. Feels like I did a double shift today 😉

        • That is the worst type of dream.
          Speaking as someone who had prior experience of both dreams and, to a lesser degree, work.
          My advice – put in for overtime!

          • Yeah if I could do that I’d be rich. Unfortunately I have a boss who will check how much work is done 😉

  2. Once the cars taking part in qualifying leaves the pits they are considered under parc-ferne, and since 44 participated in qualifying, he is under those rules which means he will either start from 10th with a broken engine or if need to change engine, it will be back of the grid.
    The totonator was saying they will talk to FIA about what they can do in terms of changing the components without penalty.

  3. Oooooh, the conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this news about Hamilton. But why are Mercedes having problems like this now? They have had an almost bullet proof car for 2 seasons.

    • Puts all Mercedes and their fan clubs F1 sites talk about reliability in testing in perspective.
      44 is also using a new gearbox in Sochi (no penalty for that).
      @ Paul, are you reading?, they sure do replace/change any component between race weekends if that is allowed.

        • Its got nothing to do with article 23.6 (2016 sporting regulations) in fact he can change another 3 engines, 3 turbochargers and 3 MGU-H (including the oil pumps!!!) without penalty because he is allocated 5 of each for the season.
          According to parc-farme rules he will have to start from the back of the grid.
          And why does the FIA even bother with the rules like that? yet once again Lulu escapes with just a reprimand for disobeying rules in turn 2, the second of the season,

          • WTF are you talking about? Have they changed the PU? No. In fact Mercedes said they won’t make a decision until tomorrow, so for now he’s starting in 10th.

            If it’s allowed that they can change parts/components then what’s the problem?

            Article 23.6 makes the gearbox change legal.

            As for the reprimand, is that not a penalty?

          • I think he would have been likely to have had a big accident if he had tried to turn left and pass the traffic cone. He “skimmed” the corner instead of going mainly into the run-off area. The cone is there for safety reasons, to allow cars to re-enter the track in a safe manner and it would be madness to insist drivers use it and cause an accident. So I think a reprimand was the correct choice.

          • Exactly. At the angle at which he ran wide, there was no way anyone would’ve been able to make it round the ballard.

            Paul Di Resta showed on his onboard camera he made an attempt to, but stopped as he wasn’t going to make it

  4. It is becoming increasingly evident that from the first race of this season in Australia that Hamilton’s (compared to all the other Mercedes works engineered cars ) was allocated a defective / substandard car . This explains the litany of problems he has had since the first race that no one has had . I think the slow start in Australia and Bahrain was not Hamilton’s fault at all. It was because of a faulty clutch which did not synchronise with the gearbox properly so hence sluggish start from a stationary position.This is why the team thought they should put in a new gearbox in China as welll as fixing the clutch. .

    If these woes continue for Hamilton , undoubtedly a more complete and gifted driver than Rosberg will ever be, Mercedes need to be investigated because what is happening is beyond a joke and is ruining F1 . Rosberg is not even breaking into a sweat on race days because he has no real competition ( which is what some people like to see ) and by end of tomorrow he will be the best part of 50 points ahead of Hamilton in the WDC and this difference will not from being a better or more skillful driver. That is disheartening – if you are a true sports fan.

  5. I only recorded q3 – summertime still not adjusted in the recorder – so I’m glad it went the way it went.

    Fight backs, whether ‘staged’ or not are always fun

  6. One thing I’ve got to say and that is, Kevin Eason is a genius!

    Prior to the start of the season, he wrote an article titled, “Send Lewis Hamilton to the back of the grid to save F1”

    After HAM’s issue, James Allen tweeted….

    “HAM situation will make it a more interesting race tomorrow at least. #F1 #RussianGP Good podium scrap on the cards”

    Is this what the sport has come to? The only way races are viewed as exciting is if Hamilton is starting from a disadvantaged position?

  7. And what Petruska called a monkey brain and what you calling an ass says, It is incredible how all these F1 brains including those ex formula one drivers turned commentators on what is regarded as top F1 sites didn’t see that the 44 10 grid position was according to his best time in Q1 and Q2 and not taking part in Q3 and nothing to do with replacement parts.
    Certain replacement parts (components) while under parc-farme will result in back of the grid start. That is what the totonator meant when he said they need talk to FIA about avoiding a grid penalty.

    • He didn’t set a time in Q3 hence the reason for him starting 10th, it had nothing to do with his Q1 or 2 time.

      There are rules that allow parts to be changed under parc ferme rules. I get the impression you’re saying that the FIA are circumventing the rules so as to help Lewis and Mercedes.

      • No, I said nothing of the sort (that the FIA are circumventing the rules so as to help 44 and Mercedes).
        Yes, as I said, his best time in the qualifying seasons he took part in and him not taking part in qualifying 3 (final) allocates him grid position 10 according to rules.
        Since he went out of the pits into qualifying (started his qualifying) his car is regarded as being under parc-farme rules.
        Changing the ICE, TURBO OR MGU-H while the car is under parc-farme rules the car will have to start from the back of the grid.

        • And like I said before, you are allowed to make changes to the car under parc ferme rules, that also includes ICE, TURBO OR MGU-H!

          Granted it’s approved following a written request to the FIA delegates and the replacement part is similar in design, mass, inertia and function to the original part. Any part replaced will be retained by the FIA. And they will retain their original grid positions. That’s not my opinion, but within the rules.

          This was the same rule Mercedes used, in I think it was Monaco in 2014 when they replaced the brake disc/pads on one of the cars.

          Also if they change any of the parts you listed, it only carries a penalty if the part is a 6th element.

          • 44 will either start from 10th on the grid as earned in qualifying with a broken engine or if need to change engine (ICE) OR TURBO, OR MGU-H, it will be a back of the grid start, as per the parc-farme rules.
            Mercedes has flown-in replacement parts overnight.

          • “Mercedes have changed Hamilton’s turbo, MGU-H, control electronics & energy store. All within his allocation so no penalties. #F1 #RussianGP”…..

            Via Adam Cooper’s Twitter account…..

            “HAM’s first V6 has gone back in the car. The tricky bit was flying in and fitting the fuel system upgrade so there is no change of spec”

        • A lot of strange decisions are happening, in China for an MGU-H failure in the first qualifying season which required a change to engine 2 from his pool of 5 resulted to a start from the back of the grid as per the parc-ferme rules, in Sochi a change to engine 1 from his pool of 5 while in parc-ferme resulted in starting the race from the grid position he qualified in.

          • He started at the back in China because he did not set a time in Q1. So they had the choice of either starting from the pitlane or the back of the grid. It had nothing to do with the any change made to the PU or any other component.

            As I pointed out to you about the change allowed granted they’re of the same spec. So by Mercedes fitting the new fuel system, it made the unit used in Australia the same spec as the one that failed yesterday, hence no rules wer broken therefore no penalty applied.

            So there’s nothing strange happening as its all within the rules.

  8. As I have already said 44 gearbox change (new gearbox in Sochi) is as allowed by the rules (no penalty)

  9. Their main concerns are to make F1 interesting again, mercedes know they are the reason for the slump in TV viewers watching this circus, so why not sacrifice the #44 car for the show. Reverse grid, cool

  10. Thanks, again, for your effort in putting this together, Matt.

    I’m sure that more often than not your write-ups are more interesting than what happens on track.

    Muchly appreciated. 🙂

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