Charles Leclerc achieved his and Ferrari’s fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrome.
Leclerc set two laps quick enough for P1 during Q2 and had an advantage of 0.402 seconds over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who split the Ferraris with his final lap.
Once again, the red cars showed impressive pace on the straights, with Leclerc outpacing Hamilton by almost half a second in the first sector of the lap.
Sebastian Vettel had second position after the first runs in Q3, but only found 0.082 seconds on a messy second lap and had to settle for third, just 0.023 seconds slower than Hamilton.
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen looked a potential pole position threat early in qualifying but ended up fourth fastest and just over three tenths ahead of fifth quickest Valtteri Bottas.
But Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new Honda power unit at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, meaning he’s currently set to start ninth.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz won the midfield battle in sixth position, just 0.067 seconds quicker than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who struggled through the first part of qualifying but delivered a superb lap at the end of Q2 to make it into the top ten shootout.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was P10 and last of those in Q3, 2.033 seconds off the pace.
Of the top ten, both Silver Arrows drivers will start on medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 time – with the rest locked in to starting on softs.
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P11, although he will not start there as he has a five-place grid penalty because of an engine change at the start of the race weekend.
This means Racing Point’s Sergio Perez moves up to that position after failing to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2.
Antonio Giovinazzi was P13 in an Alfa Romeo that hasn’t looked a top ten threat, putting him ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Magnussen did not improve on his second run in Q2 after running wide at the Turn 15 left-hander and ended up P14.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll made a similar mistake at the same corner and also did not improve, leaving him almost half-a-tenth behind Magnussen in P15.
Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after failing to improve on his second run.
He ran wide at Turn 10 on his final lap, then the rear stepped out on him in the middle of the last corner and allowed Alfa Romeo team-mate Giovinazzi to bump him by less than a tenth.
Williams driver George Russell was P17, six-tenths off the pace needed for Q2, and had an advantage of 1.2 seconds over Williams teammate Robert Kubica.
Kubica, who has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking a new Mercedes engine package, slid off the track at Turn 15 on his second push lap on his first set of tyres but improved on his second run.
Alex Albon, who carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying for an engine change, was P19 and eliminated in Q1 after spinning into the wall on his first run at Turn 13 right-hander.
The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the corner after briefly locking the rears at the start of the braking phase.
The rear came round before the apex, backing the car into the Tecpro barrier and bringing out the red flag with just over six-and-a-half minutes remaining in Q1.
Daniil Kvyat did not participate in qualifying after stopping on track with an engine problem during FP3.
The team opted to change the V6 engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, but could not complete the job in time to run in Q1.
So congratulations to Charles Leclerc with this amazing run of four pole positions. The last time a Ferrari achieved this record of consecutive poles was Michael Schumacher back in 2001. What an incredible result in his first season representing the Scuderia.
Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.628
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.030
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.053
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.632
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:33.222
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.289
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:33.301
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:33.517
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:32.310*
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:33.661
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:33.950
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.958
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.037
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.082
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:34.233
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.840
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:35.356
18 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:39.197
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:36.474
20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda –
*Five-place grid penalty for a power unit change