F1 Starting Grid 2021 Russian Grand Prix Race at Sochi

Event: Russian Grand Prix
Track: Sochi Street circuit

Warm-up lap starts at: 15:00 Local | 14:00 CET | 13:00 UK | 05:00 LA | 21:00 Tokio

After a thrilling qualifying session today, we have a completely unexpected start grid for tomorrow’s 2021 Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix. Everybody expected both Mercedes on front row for the 81st time, but the track conditions , strategic decisions and personal errors generated pole position for McLaren for the first time after 9 years of drought.

F1 Starting Grid 2021 Russian GP

Pos No Driver Team Lap Time Pole gap
1 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:41,993
2 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:42,510 +0,517s
3 63 George Russell Williams 1:42,983 +0,990s
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44,050 +2,057s
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:44,156 +2,163s
6 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:44,204 +2,211s
7 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44,710 +2,717s
8 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:44,956 +2,963s
9 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:45,337 +3,344s
10 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:45,865 +3,872s
11 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:46,573 +4,580s
12 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:46,641 +4,648s
13 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:46,751 +4,758s
14 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:49,586 +7,593s
15 47 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:49,830 +7,837s
16 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:51,023 +9,030s
17 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:53,764 +11,771s
18 6 *Nicholas Latifi Williams DNS
19 16 *Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNS
20 33 *Max Verstappen Red Bull DNF


  • Max Verstappen, Red Bull (no.33) has to start from the back for using more than 3 additional power unit elements.
  • Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (no.16) has to start from the back for using more than 3 additional power unit elements.
  • Nicholas Latifi, Williams (no.6) has to start from the back for using more than 3 additional power unit elements.

Possible 2021 Russian F1 GP race Strategies

If it’s dry, the 53-lap Russian Grand Prix should be one-stop race, unless there’s a safety car or any other anomaly.

Pole man Lando Norris, McLaren, celebrates during the Russian GP at Sochi Autodrom on Saturday September 25, 2021

The pit lane time loss is quite big in Sochi at around 25 seconds: another factor that drives teams towards a one-stopper. Tomorrow they should all be able to run the theoretically optimal tyre strategy, as wet conditions in qualifying mean that every driver has a free choice of start tyre, rather than having to go with their Q2 best time tyre.

Medium C4 to hard C3 is set to be the preferred strategy, also because this allows the greatest degree of flexibility, with a wide pit stop window that maximises opportunities to take advantage of safety cars or other race circumstances. Soft C5 to hard C3 is also a viable possibility, while soft C5 to medium C4 is marginal in terms of wear.

As always, there’s the option to do something completely different and start on the hard compound before switching to a softer compound much later in the race, but that is more of an unknown quantity. This might be a good option for those starting lower down the grid, to carry out a longer first stint. With two of the frontrunners starting at the back due to engine changes, it will be interesting to see which tactics they choose.

Four things to focus on during the 2021 Russian GP

  1. As heavy rain meant that there was no medical helicopter cover this morning, FP3 was cancelled and drivers went straight into qualifying today. They used the Cinturato Green intermediate tyres for the bulk of the session, before moving onto the P Zero Red soft C5 for just the final run in Q3 – which set up a dramatic finale. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was the only driver to use the Cinturato Blue full wet, at the beginning of Q1.
  2. With the track improving rapidly, McLaren driver Lando Norris using the softs claimed his debut pole on the final run ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Williams driver George Russell.
  3. As the wet-weather tyres were used during Q2, drivers will have a free choice of starting tyre tomorrow.
  4. Conditions were cool and damp throughout qualifying, finishing off with temperatures of 13 degrees centigrade ambient and 16 degrees centigrade on track. With a threat of rain hanging over the session, drivers started by concentrating on long runs and registering some lap times as quickly as possible, in case conditions worsened.

Mario Isola – Pirelli’s Head of F1 & Car Racing said:
“Qualifying was tricky, with a low-grip surface that took a long time to dry and made it difficult to determine the crossover point, until right at the end of Q3 when it was finally dry enough for slicks. Tomorrow’s conditions look set to be dry, meaning that teams will have to rely on the data accumulated on Friday, with one session less of running compared to usual. All drivers will have a free choice of tyres at the start, which means that they should be able to run the optimal one-stop strategy. With some fast drivers starting from the back, who might try something different, plus a slightly different top three on the grid, it should be a very intriguing race.”

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