The conditions at the F1 Russian Grand Prix Qualification were quite difficult to judge especially at the end. However, during the last minutes of the Q1 session, it seemed like the drivers were facing relatively “stable” track conditions. Hamilton, Bottas, and Perez were quite ahead of the rest.
Let’s compare Lewis’ and Bottas’ Q1 laps.
In the dry qualification, it is rare to see any driver braking later and harder than Lewis, but, as we can see, on this occasion Valtteri was using the brakes less at almost every corner. T16 for example, Lewis again using the brakes to make the front more pointy and turn better, while his teammate is off the brakes and waiting for the front of the car to grip up.
This can lead us to the conclusion that Hamilton likes to use the brake to rotate the car in wet and understeery conditions as we observed on Saturday. But does this technique helped him timewise?
(The live delta is an estimation based on the speed trace, which refresh rate is at best 60fps, so the white line is not completely accurate especially on sections with close start-stop corners as S3, but still gives us a great insight of where and who is faster.)
The first thing that is worth mentioning is the speed trace difference at the start of their laps on the main straight. We can see that third of the way into the lap to the braking point for T2, Bottas is having a time advantage which is quickly evened out by the time they brake for that corner. That, plus the fact that Bottas is losing on all other straights too, can lead us to two possible conclusions: either Lewis is carrying less downforce, or Valtteri was low on the battery during his lap.
However, the second suggestion seems a little less possible as, if we turn our attention to the slowest corners of S3, could be seen that Bottas is gaining a lot. You can see there are quite differences in S3 minimum apex speeds.
Hamilton faster: Straights, T2, T3, T4, T8, Final Corner
Bottas faster: T5, T10, S3-Final Corner
The first two sectors are where Hamilton was better on the brakes while S3 is absolutely where Bottas was able to stop the car faster.
T4 was a very strong corner of Lewis’ Q1 lap, it can be seen from examining the lateral accelerations too.