Rosberg puts pressure on Hamilton in Russia

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Rosberg puts pressure on Hamilton
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E in small doubt remained. With its extremely smooth asphalt, with the many 90 degree bends, the high fuel consumption and the great demands on the electric power, Sochi is an unknown on the calendar. The defeat of Singapore was still haunted in the back of the minds of the Mercedes people.

Then there was this strange training session. The diesel track in the first session, the rain in the second, the grueling crash of Carlos Sainz in the third. The preparation for qualification and the race was reduced to 45 minutes. On a green racetrack. Nico Rosberg practiced 15 laps, Lewis Hamilton 13. 'The setup was a bit of a guessing game,' admitted Rosberg.

Rosberg wins three tenths on Hamilton

Mercedes guessed perfectly. Nico Rosberg's pole position of 1.37.113 minutes was 1.4 seconds faster than last year. The average increased from 213.889 to 216.786 km /h. Valtteri Bottas in third place was 0.799 seconds short of the Mercedes. Ferrari 53 hundredths more. Much more important than the lead over the opponents, however, was Rosberg's training victory over his colleague Lewis Hamilton. 'And above all the relatively large lead.' After all, it was 0.320 seconds.

Rosberg hit the point with the set-up of his car and the delicate preparation of the tires. 'I was happy with my car and my lap,' explained the second in the championship. He took two warm-up laps for the 18th best time in his career. The second attempt on the same set of tires was 0.160 seconds slower. Hamilton did the same. But in the second attempt, the world champion made a mistake and broke off the company to push Rosberg from first place on the grid.

Hamilton denied having only lost pole position in the second sector, the one with its many 90 degrees -Curving requires perfect flow and good balance from the car. 'To be honest: Nico was faster everywhere today. He just felt more comfortable in the car. For me, one corner was good, the next five bad, then one more okay.'

Hamilton hopes for the start

Hamilton is now hoping for a better start, just like in Suzuka. That too has a specialty in Sochi. At 1,029 meters from pole position to the first braking point, it is the longest of the season. That was exactly where the race took place last yeardecided. Rosberg braked his tires squarely. It's a tricky braking maneuver because the long sprint up to that point means that the tires and brakes cool down more than usual find, 'reveals Hamilton.

Rosberg does not want to get involved in the opening discussion. 'I don't intend to make a mistake at the start and iron it out on the straight.' After the start failure in Suzuka, Rosberg practiced the start procedure and the all-important formation lap several times in the first training session. Then he hopes that Hamilton is right with his statement that it is difficult to follow the man in front in Sochi. Strategically, the possibilities to outsmart the opponent because of the one-stop run are also manageable. 'It would be nice if I could make up a few points on Lewis. If there are to be many, I need the help of Williams and Ferrari.'

Same World Championship bonus as last year

For Mercedes, the GP Russia can be a day of jubilee as last year. Three points more than Ferrari, and the Silver Arrows are constructors' world champions for the second time in a row. That gives significantly more money from Bernie Ecclestone's cash register and a good bonus for all employees. 'It's the same as last year,' promises team boss Toto Wolff. By the way: The winning t-shirts are already ready. 'But we're not talking about that now,' grins Wolff.

For Mercedes, repeating the previous year would be confirmation that they did everything right. 'Our team has again managed to put a dominant package on the wheels. And we reacted very well to the problem phases and defeats this season, regardless of whether Malaysia or Singapore. I'm proud of that,' summarized Wolff.

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