Rosberg ahead of Hamilton again in FP2 at Interlagos

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Coming off the back of his efforts in the first free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Friday morning, Nico Rosberg has doubled up in FP2 by finishing as the fastest driver yet again.

In an interrupted second session on Friday afternoon, Rosberg managed to post a fastest lap time of 1:12.123 on the soft tire to put himself at the top of the timesheets, edging out Hamilton by two-tenths of a second once again.

Just as they had done in FP1, a number of drivers struggled to keep their cars on track during FP2 as the circuit continued to evolve and provide varying levels of grid after being resurfaced ahead of this weekend’s race.

Kimi Raikkonen was just one driver to have multiple off-track excursions, but he managed to get a good lap together to finish third in the final classification for Ferrari ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas.

His teammate, Fernando Alonso, was less fortunate though. The Spaniard suffered an engine failure heading down the back straight, forcing the marshals to bring out the red flag while his car was recovered.

The session restarted a few minutes later, only for Esteban Gutierrez to suffer an ERS failure in exactly the same place as Alonso, stopping the session once again. Jean-Eric Vergne had also brought out a red flag in the early part of the session, meaning the tally was three come the end of the running on Friday.

Because of the stoppages, very few drivers managed to complete some heavy fuel running that was wholly representative, meaning that there will still be plenty of guess work during the final practice session on Saturday morning in Brazil.

For the time being though, the advantage still appears to lie with Rosberg, and the German driver will be hoping to carry this form into the rest of the weekend as he goes in search of a first win in almost four months.

Be sure to join us tomorrow from 8a ET to watch FP3 on Live Extra and online, followed by qualifying on live CNBC at 11.

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.