Rosberg on pole in Russia as title beckons for Mercedes

Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:01pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg seized pole position for the Russian Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with world champion Lewis Hamilton joining his team mate on the front row in a perfect qualifying for Mercedes.

The pole was Rosberg's third of the season with championship leader Hamilton, who is 48 points clear of the German with five races remaining, denied his 50th for the third race in succession.

Hamilton, who had hoped for his 12th pole in 15 races, aborted his second and final lap of the final phase after making a mistake on a clear afternoon in the Olympic Park.

The front-row lockout was still just what Mercedes had ordered, with the team needing to score three points more than Ferrari to clinch their second successive constructors' title this weekend.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas qualified third for Mercedes-powered Williams with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen fourth and fifth.

Hamilton won last year's inaugural race in Russia from pole, with Rosberg runner-up after also starting on the front row, but he could not get close to Rosberg's time of one minute 37.113 seconds.

"We didn't get much practice but qualifying worked out really well and a good balance on the car," said the German after his second pole in a row and 18th of his career. "We had to guess a little all worked out well, I felt comfortable.

"Of course, the constructors' championship is a really important target for us this weekend, it would be amazing to clinch it for a second time so early on in the season, and so we are out to do that.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives ahead of Force India Formula One driver Sergio Perez of Mexico during the qualifying session of the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, October 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor