Russian Grand Prix: Qualifying Recap


Event: Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix (Round 4 of 21)
Date: Saturday, April 30
Location: Sochi Autodrom
Layout: 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit
Weather Partly sunny, 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit)
Lap Record: 1:35.417 set by Nico Rosberg in 2016 with Mercedes (new lap record)
Pole Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:35.417)
Romain Grosjean qualified 15th, will start on outside of Row 8
Esteban Gutiérrez qualified 16th, will start on inside of Row 8

Q1 Rundown:

  • Lasts 18 minutes, with all 22 drivers participating
  • Fastest 16 drivers advance to Q2

Grosjean: 14th quick (1:38.383), advanced to Q2
Gutiérrez: 16th quick (1:38.678), advanced to Q2
Fastest Driver: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (1:36.006)
Cutoff: 16th-quick Esteban Gutiérrez of Haas F1 Team (1:38.678)

Q2 Rundown:

  • Lasts 15 minutes, featuring the 16 fastest drivers from Q1
  • Fastest 10 drivers advance to Q3

Grosjean: 15th quick (1:38.055)
Gutiérrez: 16th quick (1:38.115)
Fastest Driver: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:35.337)
Cutoff: 10th-quick Daniil Kyvat of Red Bull Racing (1:38.265)

Q3 Rundown:

  • Lasts 12 minutes, featuring the 10 fastest drivers from Q2, all battling for the pole

Pole Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:35.417)
Second: Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:36.123)*

*Vettel will take a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change.


Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix was held under identical conditions to practice on Friday, with a partly sunny sky and comfortable temperatures offering continuity to the proceedings. Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez opened the 18-minute Q1 session armed with substantial mileage around the 5.484-kilometer (3.634-mile) Sochi Autodrom. 

Friday’s combined tally of 88 practice laps was further bolstered by a solid final 60-minute practice session on Saturday. Thirty-three laps were recorded between the pairing – 18 laps by Gutiérrez and 15 laps by Grosjean. After running their installation round on the Pirelli P Zero White medium tires, both drivers quickly swapped to the P Zero Red supersoft compound for the remainder of the session. Gutiérrez’s fastest time (1:39.230) placed him 15th and Grosjean’s quickest lap (1:39.239) put him 17th.

The Red supersofts were the tire of choice throughout qualifying. Both Haas F1 Team drivers’ fastest times came after a switch to a second set of fresh rubber with less than six minutes remaining in Q1. Grosjean’s best lap (1:38.383) placed him 14th while Gutiérrez secured the 16th position with a time of 1:38.678, allowing both drivers to advance to Q2.

The 15-minute Q2 session proved to be more challenging, with only the top-10 progressing to the third and final qualifying round. Grosjean and Gutiérrez set faster lap times than they did in Q1, but neither was quick enough to advance to Q2. Grosjean, however, set a personal benchmark lap of 1:38.055 at Sochi to qualify 15th. It was his third straight time advancing to Q2. Gutiérrez followed just behind his teammate in 16th with a fast lap of 1:38.115. Though the team hoped to advance to Q3, both drivers have the advantage of saving a set of tires for the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Nico Rosberg won the pole with a lap of 1:35.417 and broke his own track record in the process. The Mercedes driver bested his previous record of 1:37.113, set last year in qualifying. His second straight pole for the Russian Grand Prix was also his second straight pole this season, as Rosberg scored his first pole of 2016 in the series’ last round in China.

Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team

“It’s been a complicated weekend so far for us. We’ve been struggling with the grip and the car. It’s difficult to get the tire to work on such a smooth asphalt. We’re progressing, we’re learning and doing the most we can do. I still don’t have the feeling I used to have earlier in the season with the car. We really need to analyze that. Then tomorrow’s going to be a long race with a lot of fuel saving. The tires are hard to keep in the window, so it’s going to be challenging for everyone. Maybe we can try to be a bit more clever. Let’s do our best, let’s analyze and let’s keep having some interesting data. We’ll see where we are after the race.”

Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team

“Qualifying was pretty hard. It was difficult to get the tires to work, so it’s been a bit of a challenge. I was doing my best with all the options we have available to maximize everything, but I’m not really satisfied with the result. However, we still have a race to do tomorrow. Hopefully, a few surprises may come our way that will give us a chance to be up in the points. It’s probably not going to be very straightforward, as the pace is not as good as we want it to be, but we will definitely push hard and do our best to get there.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

“We are very happy with where we qualified. We had a difficult weekend leading up to today, but we recovered and ended up 15th and 16th, which is very close to the two McLarens. To be in Q2 with both cars is great for us. We are usually stronger in the race than we are in qualifying. We’ll definitely be pushing with both cars to maximize our position and get into the points, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow.”

This article contains: Russian Grand Prix