Hamilton holds off Rosberg and Bottas for pole in Russia


Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the Russian Grand Prix by 0.2s from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, but faced the biggest challenge for the top spot from Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. Bottas set the fastest first and second sectors on his final run, but started to get ragged towards the end of the lap and lost the rear of the car completely in the final corner. As a result he had to settle for third on the grid, 0.4s off Hamilton, with Jenson Button taking his best dry qualifying performance of the year in fourth. However, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat was most impressive after taking fifth on the grid in front of his home crowd, meaning he will start ahead of both Red Bulls on Sunday. His team-mate for next year Daniel Ricciardo will start behind him in sixth once Kevin Magnussen's gearbox penalty is applied and the McLaren driver drops to 11th. Fernando Alonso was the highest-placed Ferrari ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, as Ferrari look set for another difficult weekend. Jean-Eric Vergne rounded off the top ten in the second Toro Rosso. Sebastian Vettel failed to make the cut for the top ten for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix. He missed out by just over a tenth of a second to Vergne and was only just quicker than Nico Hulkenberg in 12th, who will drop to 17th when his gearbox penalty is applied. Force India team-mate Sergio Perez will line up 12th on the grid in his place ahead of Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil and Romian Grosjean. Felipe Massa failed to make it out of the first practice session due to a suspected fuel pressure problem. He was able to complete laps but was significantly down on power and 3.5s off the pace of his team-mate over the course of the lap. He will start behind Marcus Ericsson, who missed a place in Q2 by just 0.1s after an good lap saw him qualify 17th on the grid. Kamui Kobayashi was 19th ahead of a disappointing session for Pastor Maldonado, who had struggled with an ERS problem in final practice but also has a grid penalty hanging over him after using his sixth engine in Suzuka. Max Chilton qualified 21st in the sole Marussia competing this weekend, although a gearbox change following final practice meant he was unlikely to start anywhere but the back row of the grid.