Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean qualified 14th and 20th, respectively, for the Russian Grand Prix Sunday at the Sochi Autodrom. Magnussen, however, will start 13th due to a five-place grid penalty being served by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who qualified 11th. And Grosjean will start 19th as 17th-place qualifier Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren also serves a grid penalty.
Magnussen set the 15th-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:36.408 to claw his way into Q2, as only the top-15 drivers advance to the second round of qualifying. Grosjean’s struggle with the balance of his racecar continued in qualifying and it resulted in a 20th-place Q1 drive. Grosjean’s effort was also thwarted by double yellow flags that waved on his final flying lap when Jolyon Palmer spun his Renault into the wall off turn four of the 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit.
In Q2, Magnussen shaved .391 of a second off his Q1 time to qualify 14th. While his lap of 1:36.017 was his quickest of the weekend, Magnussen did not move on to Q3 as just the 10 fastest drivers advance.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean ran exclusively on the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tire throughout qualifying.
Taking the pole for the Russian Grand Prix was Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. His fast lap of 1:33.194 set a new track qualifying record and was .059 of a second better than runner-up and teammate Kimi Räikkönen. Nico Rosberg held the previous track qualifying record of 1:35.337 set last year in Q2, and Vettel’s pole-winning time beat it by 2.143 seconds. This is Vettel’s 47th career Formula One pole but his first since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. And with Räikkönen qualifying second, it marked the first Ferrari front-row lockout since the 2008 French Grand Prix, a span of 127 races.
Before Magnussen, Grosjean and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track. Both drivers were on the same program, with three stints apiece that ran the range of Pirelli’s tire lineup beginning with the Yellow soft, continuing with the Red supersoft and culminating with the Purple ultrasoft. Each of their cars were also outfitted with a Brembo brake package, with the team reverting back to the supplier it used throughout 2016 and the beginning of this season after testing Carbon Industrie brakes April 18-19 at Bahrain and yesterday in FP1 and FP2 in Sochi.
Magnussen set the 10th-fastest time in FP3 with a 1:36.556 on his 19th and final lap. Grosjean tallied 20 laps and earned his best time on his last lap as well, a 1:37.164 that put him 16th overall.
The top of FP3 provided a prelude to qualifying, with Vettel and Räikkönen first and second, respectively. Vettel’s fast lap of 1:34.001 was .337 of a second better than Räikkönen.