Vet­tel on pole as Fer­rari lock out the front row

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RACING -

SE­BAS­TIAN Vet­tel headed Kimi Raikko­nen as Fer­rari locked out the front row at the Rus­sian Grand Prix. Mercedes driv­ers Valt­teri Bot­tas and Lewis Hamil­ton were third and fourth.

The last time Vet­tel started from pole was at the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix back in 2015, but his and Fer­rari’s pace in Rus­sia so far this week­end would ap­pear to point to­wards a chang­ing of the guard, with Hamil­ton’s Mercedes team hav­ing dom­i­nated the sport for the past three sea­sons.

In­deed Mercedes have a great record in th­ese parts hav­ing won all of the three grands prix staged here while lead­ing ev­ery lap. But they, and in par­tic­u­lar Hamil­ton, have strug­gled for form, with Fer­rari now only ce­ment­ing their sta­tus as real chal­lengers for both the driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ crown.

Hamil­ton was nearly six tenths of a sec­ond be­hind Vet­tel, and al­most half-a-sec­ond down on Bot­tas. His slug­gish pace was greeted by crossed arms from Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda in the Mercedes garage, with the lat­ter puff­ing out his cheeks and shak­ing his head.

Vet­tel was ju­bi­lant on seal­ing his 47 th ca­reer pole, telling re­porters: “When I got the mes­sage I got it [pole], I was over the moon. The car has been phe­nom­e­nal and it was a real plea­sure to take the it around on low fuel and drive it to the limit.” into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead, mainly through the ac­cu­racy of Banville from frees and Jack Dev­ereux from play, but the cru­cial break­through ar­rived a minute be­fore the break when Dev­ereux goaled from close range to give his side a 1-9 to 0-6 in­ter­val ad­van­tage, though Aaron Ma­her, Aaron Kenny and Conor Lang­ton’s points kept Of­faly in con­tention.

Wex­ford’s dom­i­nance was to con­tinue through the sec­ond half with a Char­lie McGuckin 40th-minute goal ex­tend­ing their lead to 2-13 to 0-8.

While Of­faly kept on bat­tling they were un­able to fash­ion any real chances. Joe Ke­naghan’s goal com­ing eight min­utes from the end and too late to affect the re­sult.

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