F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice

Lotus reaches top 10 for the first time in 2014 thanks to Grosjean


Romain Grosjean has secured Lotus’ first top 10 grid position of the season during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on what was a bittersweet day for the British team.

Whilst the Frenchman finally found his feet with the E22 car to qualify 10th, teammate Pastor Maldonado did not even make it out on track after an engine problem forced him to sit on the sidelines during qualifying.

The Venezuelan driver had a disastrous Friday in China, spinning in FP1 and then crashing at the pit entry in FP2. However, when he was forced to pull over during practice on Saturday morning, it was through no fault of his own. When the car was recovered and brought back to the pits, it was found that there was an engine problem that required fixing.

Fighting alone, Grosjean was keen on securing the Lotus’ best qualifying result of the season after a difficult start to the year. Financial problems blighted much of the team’s progress at the beginning of the year, meaning that it had to miss the first test in Jerez. Ever since, it had been behind in the development race, but the team finally appears to have found some form in China.

In Q1, Grosjean managed to scrape through in 16th position ahead of Esteban Gutierrez after the rain grew heavier towards the end of the session, preventing any improvements. A well-timed lap in Q2 meant that he eased through in 7th place whilst Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen all failed to make it into the final part of qualifying.

Q3 was a less fruitful session for the Frenchman, and he finished three-tenths of a second adrift of the rest of the field to finish down in 10th place. However, simply to make it through into the top 10 shootout was a major achievement for the entire Lotus team.

Now, the target will be for Grosjean to score the team’s first points of the season tomorrow, and with light rain forecast, he might just be able to make it a reality.

Despite not technically qualifying, Maldonado should be permitted to race by the stewards after setting times within the required 107% of the fastest driver during practice on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Chinese Grand Prix from pole position. You can watch the race live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET tomorrow.

Sainz uninjured, but to remain in hospital overnight

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Carlos Sainz Jr. will remain in hospital overnight following a terrifying crash during practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Sainz slammed into the wall at turn 13 after losing control of his car, pitching in underneath the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.

Medical crews spent 20 minutes extricating Sainz from his car due to the barriers’ placement before he was taken away to hospital for a check-up.

Sainz tweeted a picture to his followers confirming that he was okay, and Toro Rosso has now released a second statement confirming that the Spaniard was fully conscious throughout the crash and is uninjured.

“After arriving at the Sochi Hospital 4, Carlos Sainz, who never lost consciousness, underwent a medical examination, including a full body scan,” the statement reads. “The scan showed that the driver has no injuries.

“However, he will be staying in the hospital overnight as a precautionary measure, which is the normal procedure in these circumstances.

“We will release further information when it is available.”

Sainz tweeted that he was hoping to convince the doctors to release him from hospital early enough so that he could take part in tomorrow’s race, but any steps taken will be with his well-being in mind.

Rosberg charges to Russian GP pole in Sochi

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Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in Saturday’s qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.113 to edge out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by three-tenths of a second to score pole position in Russia.

Following on from its dominant display in Japan two weeks ago, Mercedes showed few signs of easing up at the front of the field as it stormed to another front-row lock-out.

Having traded fastest lap times throughout the earlier stages of qualifying, Hamilton and Rosberg renewed their battle in Q3 at Sochi, but it was Rosberg who finished on top.

Rosberg drew early blood in Q3 by going three-tenths faster than his teammate on his first run, and when Hamilton locked up late on and opted to pit, pole was safely with the German driver.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the best of the rest in third place, beating the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who finished fifth and sixth respectively as all of the drivers struggled to improve on their second runs.

Nico Hulkenberg and Force India teammate Sergio Perez will start sixth and seventh, while Romain Grosjean qualified eighth. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively.

Home favorite Daniil Kvyat was unable to delight the local fans as he would have liked to in qualifying, dropping out in Q2 by finishing 11th ahead of Felipe Nasr. Pastor Maldonado was also eliminated, finishing 14th, but it was Felipe Massa who was the biggest casualty of the second session, ending up 15th for Williams.

McLaren experienced something of a mixed qualifying session on Saturday as Fernando Alonso was knocked out at the end of Q1. Teammate Jenson Button managed to improve late on to dump the Spaniard out and leave him 16th overall, while the Briton went on to finish 13th in Q2.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also dropped out at the first hurdle alongside the two Manor drivers, while Carlos Sainz Jr. took no part in the session following his practice crash. The Spaniard still hopes to take part in tomorrow’s race, but will remain in hospital overnight.