Vettel takes pole position for Russian Grand Prix
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 29, 2017 10:13 PM
Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland talk to each other at the end of the qualifying session ahead the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the 'Sochi Autodrom' circuit, in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, April. 29, 2017. The Russian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. Vettel clocked the fastest time and Raikkonen was second. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
JAMES ELLINGWORTH, AP Sports Writer
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole position for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday, ending a run of 18 poles for Mercedes.
Vettel, the Formula One leader, shaved 0.059 seconds off his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen's leading time, claiming his first pole since September 2015.
"If you have the rhythm here, it feels fantastic," Vettel said.
The German will be looking to claim his third win of the season on Sunday and extend his seven-point standings lead over Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
Raikkonen said he was "happier than the previous qualifyings," despite missing out by a whisker on what would have been his first pole for nine years.
The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton qualified third and fourth respectively after failing to dislodge Vettel with their last-lap efforts.
The Sochi track has previously suited Mercedes, which had been looking to strike back at Ferrari after Vettel won the last race in Bahrain.
"Going into this weekend, we were thinking it's probably going to be better than Bahrain," Bottas said. "For sure, definitely it's disappointing for us not to be on pole."
Still, Bottas suggested he and Hamilton could ambush the Ferraris at the first corner on Sunday.
"Second-row start here is not that bad a thing. It's a pretty long run into turn one," he said.
Vettel suggested on Friday that Mercedes was concealing its true pace after Ferrari led the time charts in practice. Despite failing to make the front row, Bottas and Hamilton did close the gap to Ferrari — with Bottas just .095 off Vettel's time.
Vettel's pole sets the stage for a much more competitive Russian race than any of the previous editions, which were all battles within the dominant Mercedes team.
The driver on pole has won two of the three Russian F1 races so far, the exception being in 2015 when Nico Rosberg retired with a throttle problem, handing victory to Hamilton.
Jolyon Palmer endured a miserable day, qualifying 16th after he lost control on a curb and crashed into the barrier. That was scant reward for his Renault mechanics, who earlier rushed to change the engine on Palmer's car when the previous power unit failed in the third practice.