This would be the weekend that we knew if Ferrari has really not only caught the Mercedes duo in terms of pace, but also passed them. So far, it appears that rings true.
Charles Leclerc was quickest in two of the three Formula One practice sessions in Sochi and turned that into a pole winner performance on Saturday afternoon.
Leclerc turned in a lap of 1:31.628-seconds in his No. 16 Ferrari en route to his fourth straight pole on the season. He becomes the first Ferrari driver to earn that feat since Michael Schumacher in 2000 into 2001.
Also, Leclerc has outqualified his teammate Sebastian Vettel in nine straight races now en route to his six career pole.
Vettel, will start third in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix after turning in a lap of 1:32.053-seconds in his No. 5 Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton qualified second in his No. 44 Mercedes. Hamilton (1:32.030-seconds) was .402-seconds arrears of Leclerc’s hot lap as the defending race winner said that the advantage of Ferrari is clear and it’s in the straights.
Hamilton, has won three of the five F1 trips to Sochi and finished second in another. Mercedes, has been a perfect 5-for-5 in the Russian Grand Prix but now appears to be threatened by the Ferrari duo for the win on Sunday.
Valtteri Bottas (1:32.632-seconds) will roll off fourth in his No. 77 Mercedes while Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:33.222-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Red Bull Racing struggled. Alex Albon crashed in Q1 and starts 18th. Max Verstappen was quickest in FP2 and second in FP1 but only qualified his No. 33 Honda ninth. The Toro Rosso’s were only 11th (Pierre Gasly) and 20th (Daniil Kvyat) respectively.
Red Bull nor Toro Rosso has ever earned a podium in Russia.
Russian Grand Prix Starting Lineup
Row 1: Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton
Row 2: Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas
Row 3: Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg
Row 4: Lando Norris R, Romain Grosjean
Row 5: Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo
Row 6: Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez
Row 7: Antonio Giovinazzi R, Kevin Magnussen
Row 8: , Lance Stroll, Kimi Raikkonen
Row 9: George Russell R, Alex Albon R
Row 10: Robert Kubica, Daniil Kvyat