Lewis Hamilton kept to form as he followed up his practice pace with a pole position for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.
The Championship leader, who holds a 10-point advantage over Nico Rosberg in the race for the World title, entered Saturday’s qualifying as the driver to beat having set the pace on the soft tyres in FP2 and again in FP3.
Pushing hard the British racer crossed the line with a 1:38.513 to move well ahead of the chasing pack. However, he had both Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas behind him on the track.
Rosberg made two mistakes on his flying lap, meaning he had to settle for second place, while Bottas was up through the middle sector and on course for pole position.
However, mistakes in the final two corners as he rear Pirellis went away meant he had to settled for third. It was a great effort.
Jenson Button had a great afternoon as he finished fourth ahead of arguably the star of the afternoon, Daniil Kvyat.
Despite the pressure of racing at his home grand prix in Russia, the Toro Rosso teenager keep his cool to claim fifth place on the grid, his best qualifying to date.
That puts him ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso.
The big shock of the session was Sebastian Vettel.
Just lacking the pace, for as yet undisclosed reason, the German dropped out of qualifying in Q2. Languishing down in 15th, he put in a late gasp 1:40.052 but that was only good enough for 11th.
It was an ever more dismal Saturday afternoon for Felipe Massa as, despite having a very competitive car, his FW36 suffered a fuel pressure problem at the start of Q1.
As the team needed more than 18 minutes to fix the issue, they kept Massa out on track, just putting in the laps in the hope of making it through to Q2. He did not.f
The Brazilian qualified down in 18th place although penalties for other drivers could yet move him forward a position or two.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.513
02 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.713 +0.200
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:38.920 +0.407
04 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.121 +0.608
05 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.277 +0.764
06 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:39.629 +1.116
07 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.635 +1.122
08 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:39.709 +1.196
09 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.771 +1.258
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:40.020 +1.507
11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.052
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:40.058
13 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.163
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:40.536
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:40.984
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:41.397
17 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:42.648
18 Felipe Massa Williams 1:43.064
19 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:43.166
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:43.205
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:43.649
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