The fastest Ferrari Charles Leclerc driver in the Russian Grand Prix qualifier with a minute of 31,628 seconds on the Sochi track on September 28.
Leclerc won the pole in Spa (Belgium), Monza (Italy), Marina Bay (Singapore) and now Sochi (Russia). The Monaco driver overwhelms rivals in all three Russian Grand Prix qualifying rounds. He is always at the top of every race when he successfully completes the race, even with just one race in Q1. The second and third fastest qualifying rounds are Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) with 0.402 and 0.425 seconds slower than Leclerc.
Fourth place went to Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – the fastest person on the first test day – with 0.682 seconds slower than Leclerc. But due to a five-point penalty, the Dutch driver will only start the race in ninth place. Starting in fourth and fifth place belong to Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Carlos Sainz (McLaren). Alexander Albon (Red Bull) disappointed in being eliminated immediately in round 1.
The top five places in the Russian qualifying round are similar to those in Singapore. Ferrari continues to show that changes in aerodynamics at Marina Bay are reasonable. The SF90 is still slightly better than its rivals at Sochi.
Ferrari started Q1 with regular tires, while Mercedes used soft tires. But, Leclerc is still the fastest in the first run a minute 33,613 seconds. Vettel’s first run was not good when he made a mistake at Turn 13 – a 90-degree angle after a long straight line. In this same position, Albon hits the barricade and fails to get past Q1. The race paused after the accident of the Red Bull racer, when Vettel did not produce satisfactory results. After the race continued, Vettel had to change soft tires to ensure the passing of Q1. Eligible riders, besides Albon, are George Russell, Robert Kubica (Williams), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo). Host Kvyat did not attend the qualifying round because of a technical error.
Ferrari switched to soft tires in Q2, which means it will start a race with similar tires. Leclerc uses the newest and fastest tire with a minute of 32,434 seconds. The Mercedes couple used regular tires at the beginning of Q2, then switched to soft tires. But they failed to reach the 32-minute mark.
It took until Q3 for Mercedes to reach its full potential and reach the 32-minute mark. Vettel does not have a good position at the beginning of Q3, with the next car being Hamilton. Meanwhile, Leclerc leads and comfortably pushes the speed to the highest. He was fastest in the first round with a 31,801 second minute, far ahead of Vettel and Hamilton respectively 0.334 seconds and 0.564 seconds. In the last run, only Leclerc still reached the one-minute mark of 31 seconds. But, Hamilton greatly improved performance with the best results in the three (sector) region.