Sebastian Vettel claimed his and Ferrari’s first pole position since 2015 as he romped to P1 at the Sochi circuit, qualifying ahead of Kimi Raikkonen for a Scuderia 1-2.
With Ferrari dominating the practice sessions but crying “sandbagging” over Mercedes’ form, Saturday’s qualifying was the first true test for either team.
Ferrari claimed the early initiative as Kimi Raikkonen put his SF70H on provisional pole ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
Sebastian Vettel was third with Lewis Hamilton, who backed off in the final sector after a small mistake, 1.2s down.
Raikkonen and Vettel laid down personal bests in the first sector as they looked to grab the 1-2.
Hamilton went purple in the first sector, giving Ferrari a bit of a scare but in the end it was a first 1-2 since 2008 for the Scuderia as Vettel pipped Raikkonen to pole.
A 1:33.194 sealed the deal for the championship leader, 0.059s up on Raikkonen.
Bottas was third, 0.095s down, while Hamilton was fourth, half a second off the pace.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth ahead of Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen while Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.
A late crash from Jolyon Palmer, who threw it into the wall at Turn 4, meant double waved yellows at the end of Q1 prevented others from improving their times.
As such Romain Grosjean finished slowest of all, the Haas driver complaining about engine mapping, Marcus Ericsson’s driving and just about everything except his brakes.
Fernando Alonso made it into Q2 for the second race weekend in succession where he was P15.
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.194
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.253 +0.059
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:33.289 +0.095
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.767 +0.573
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:34.905 +1.711
6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:35.110 +1.916
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:35.161 +1.967
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport 1:35.285 +2.091
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.337 +2.143
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:35.430 +2.236
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:35.948
12 Lance Stroll Williams 1:35.964
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:35.968
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.017
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:36.660
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport 1:36.462
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:37.070
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:37.332
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:37.507
20 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:37.620