Nico Rosberg has set the fastest lap ever of Sochi to claim pole on the P Zero Red supersoft, comprehensively beating the previous record of 1m37.113s set in qualifying last year.
Rosberg’s Pole time of 1m35.417 eclipsed the previous lap record, also set on P Zero Red supersoft tyres, by almost 2 seconds.
With every driver using the supersoft in Q2 as well, this is the tyre that the top 10 on the grid will start on tomorrow. As conditions were cool in Russia today, drivers had to concentrate carefully on warming up the tyres. Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s race as well.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Russia is by no means a typical track as it features low grip that keeps wear and degradation at very low levels and also enables long stints. For this reason we saw drivers complete multi-lap runs during qualifying, with consistent performance from the tyres. We expect a one-stop strategy to be the preferred choice for most contenders tomorrow, and it’s unlikely that the medium tyre will be used.”
Pirelli Race strategy predictions: A one-stopper should be the favoured tactic on the smooth asphalt of Russia for the 53-lap race. Starting on soft or supersoft makes little difference to the overall race time. Starting on supersoft, the fastest way is to change to soft on lap 18. Starting on soft, it’s best to change to supersoft on lap 35. Some teams may gamble on a two-stopper, which is theoretically the fastest way to do the race but risks traffic. In which case: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 12, then soft again on lap 32.
Mclaren Honda’s Jenson Button discusses his surprise enthusiasm for the Sochi Autodrome with Mobil 1’s The Grid. After struggling to pick out landmarks and differentiate corners when learning the track in the simulator, Jenson shares his thoughts on the thrill of driving through the Winter Olympic village and how the characteristics of the track encourage and rewards an aggressive style of driving.
Jenson hopes to register his first points of the 2016 season in Sochi, with the opening three races of the year falling somewhat short of both the team and drivers expectations.
Early indications suggest similar weather conditions for the 2016 running of the Russian Grand Prix to previous years despite the race moving from October to April. This should suit the supersoft tyre compound with which Mclaren have performed strongly this season.
Pirelli will bring the following three compounds to Bahrain and China for the second and third rounds of the 2016 Formula One championship:
P Zero White medium
P Zero Yellow soft
P Zero Red supersoft
With the compounds for the Australian GP already announced this means the ultrasoft will not appear on the calender until the Russian GP, the 4th race of the season.
These are the tyres that Pirelli has said must be used at some point in the race:
One set of P Zero White medium
One set of P Zero Yellow soft.
Each driver must have both these sets available for the race, and must use at least oneof them.
There are the tyres assigned for Q3 in qualifying:
One set of P Zero Red supersoft
Following on from the 2016 regulations, each driver must save one set of the softest of the three nominated compounds for Q3. This set will be given back to Pirelli after Q3 for those who qualify in the top 10, but the remaining drivers will keep it for the race – as is the case currently.
The teams are free to choose the remaining sets; making up 13 sets in total for the weekend.
The tyre choices so far:
Driver & Team Update:
Carlos Sainz (STR10-04, Car 55)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:42.683, pos. 15th, 19 laps
Qualifying – did not take part
“Hi everyone! As you can see I am fine. My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready. Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention! Obviously we need to be cautious… I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments… I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”
Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)
“Our first considerations are obviously for Carlos. It was quite a big crash for him but it’s good to know that he feels well. We will now need to wait until tomorrow morning to hear if his final FIA medical checks are okay.
On the engineering side we are still finalising the details of our crash investigation. However so far there are no significant findings to talk about. From a personal point of view I am quite impressed to see that the car has survived such a shunt in quite a healthy way: the nose crush zone has worked very efficiently and the four wheels were still retained by the tethers. The monocoque looks to be in good shape as well.
Talking a little more about the car performance, both drivers were settling down nicely in P3 before Carlos’s crash, doing long-run tyre tests early on. In qualifying with Max, he did a good job as we were still evolving our approach as well, given we didn’t get a short run with either driver in P3. Most significantly we had to make a decision on the way we used the tyres selecting between build-push or push-charge-push. We elected for the second option in Q3. It is obviously difficult to say for sure which would have been better but Max put together a pretty good lap and I think we achieved most of what we could have today with our package.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal)
“I’m very happy that Carlos is ok and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us! I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race. Now, just to clarify what happened, prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the Option tyre, before changing to the Prime to do two further laps. On Primes the grip level is lower. In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”
Opinion: Carlos Sainz was fortunate to avoid serious injury in this FP3 incident. Whilst the team remain unclear as to the cause, the implication from Franz Tost appears to be driver error. All parties seem hopeful Sainz will participate in tomorrow’s race. Presumably to be considered mandatory FIA regulated medical tests will need to be completed tomorrow morning.