Carlos Sainz Jr produced his best ever qualifying in Formula 1, to put his Scuderia Ferrari on the front row for the Russian Grand Prix in testing conditions. Charles Leclerc to start from the back of the grid with engine penalty.
Sainz judged the conditions perfectly, the Spaniard made the right call at the right time in Qualifying Three, fitting the soft compound tyre on with enough time to get heat in the tyres on the drying Sochi Autodrom surface. It so nearly looked like it would be pole for Sainz but he was narrowly beaten by ex-Mclaren team-mate Lando Norris in what was a crazy qualifying.
Sainz enjoyed the tricky qualifying and is pleased to be on the front row, although the Spaniard would’ve been happier with pole.
“It’s been a tough quali session but I’m proud how we managed the situation to end up putting a great lap together for P2. I like these tricky conditions and I really enjoyed that last attempt on the slicks. We were one of the first ones to cross the line and the wait until P2 was confirmed was tense, as the track was drying quickly! Front row for tomorrow is a good result, and I’m happy, but I would have preferred to keep pole!
“Tomorrow it’s very likely to be dry and we had a decent pace yesterday. Graining on the front tyres will be challenging but I will give it all from the very first lap until the end. Congrats to Lando on his first pole! It’s good to start beside him.“
“The track had very high grip in the rain” – Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc’s qualifying went as expected, the team ran in Qualifying One in order to gain important mileage before not setting a time in Qualifying Two. The team decided not to risk damaging the Monegasque’s SF21, meaning Leclerc was eliminated at the end of the second session.
A meaningless statistic with Leclerc starting from the back of the grid after taking on a new upgraded power unit. Leclerc is happy to have racked up some mileage and is pleased for Sainz and the entire team.
“The conditions today were not ones we experience very often during a season, but they are those with which, recently, we have struggled the most. So, despite knowing that we would start from the back row tomorrow, we decided it was a good opportunity to get out, rack up some mileage and learn for the future. I think we achieved that goal today.
“I really enjoyed driving, as the track had very high grip in the rain and we were quite competitive right from the start. That was good to see. I’m happy for the team and Carlos for the good result today and we will both give it our all in the race.”