Romain Grosjean said that traffic prevented him from setting a good lap time in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, adding that ninth place was “definitely not where [he] wanted to be.”
Having made it through the first qualifying session with ease, Grosjean’s appearance in the third qualifying session was secured when five of the remaining fifteen cars – both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars, both Renault Sport Formula One Team cars and Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver Pierre Gasly – elected not to run in the second qualifying session. This meant that the ten cars who set times – Grosjean included – were given an automatic pass to the third and final session.
Having shown form in previous sessions, and with both Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team cars making it into the third session, it looked like Grosjean might have been able to secure a good starting position for the race. However, unfortunately for the Frenchman, this wasn’t the case. He was only able to set the ninth-fastest time of the session, beating just Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson.
Grosjean’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen qualified in fifth place, setting a time over half a second faster than that of Grosjean’s.
Speaking after qualifying, Grosjean said that his lack of pace on his final run was due to traffic, and that with the Renaults so close behind, he’s not sure how he’ll fare during the race.
“Unfortunately, we had too much traffic on the out lap of my last run in Q3. The tires were really cold to start the lap and I just didn’t get the grip. I couldn’t repeat my lap time from Q2, which is a bit of a shame, but it happens. Some cars were really slowing down a lot in the last two corners and that created a bit of a queue.
“For the race, well, we’re starting on hypersofts with Renault behind starting on ultrasofts. They didn’t run in Q2, but with the other penalties, they’re going to start 11th and 12th. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. We’ll do our best, but P9 is definitely not where I wanted to be.”