Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position at Sochi despite the panic in not setting a Q2 lap following the crash of Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start the Russian Grand Prix in second, beating Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton also faces a post-qualifying investigation for a track limits violation – along with Nicholas Latifi, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen – in Q1, and is the only driver in the top three who will start the race on the soft Pirelli as a result of his Q2 near-miss.

In that session, where spots of rain were reported early on, Mercedes sent both of its cars out on the medium compound, as Red Bull did with Verstappen.

But both Hamilton and Bottas were forced to do second runs on the harder rubber as the former had his time deleted for a track limits violation at the final corner and the latter’s first effort was poor.

Bottas was then able set a time good enough to get him through to Q3, but Hamilton had to abort his second run when Vettel crashed at Turn 4 bringing out the red flag.

The Ferrari driver appeared to clip the kerb on the inside of the right hander and the rear quickly got away from him, spinning into the wall on the outside and knocking his front wing – which was struck by the closely following Leclerc – and his right front wheel.

When the session restarted, Mercedes sent Hamilton out on soft tyres, which means Bottas will start on the opposite strategy on the medium tyres along with Verstappen, who headed the pack urgently getting to the line to complete a final run with two minutes, 15 seconds on the clock after Vettel’s crash.

Verstappen was also running softs and looked to be improving on his previous Q2 best on the mediums, but he abandoned his run so he will take the start on the harder rubber, which is expected to be a better race tyre in what will be one-stop event.

Hamilton, who slide wide at Turn 2 on his out lap as he ran down the queue of cars desperately trying to make it into the top ten shootout, crossed the line with barely a second remaining on the clock.

But he was able race around and get through with the fourth fastest time in Q2, which was headed by Ricciardo, with the last lap set and knock out a frustrated Charles Leclerc as a result.

In Q3, Hamilton led the way with a one minute, 31.391 seconds, while Bottas had to close a 0.793 seconds gap after the opening runs in the final shootout.

Bottas did improve on his final run, despite clouting the kerb at the exit of Turn 2, but was still five tenths behind even before Hamilton completed his final lap – one minute, 31.304 seconds, which is a new track record and gives him his first pole in Sochi since 2014.

Verstappen set his final lap much later than the two Mercedes and was running fractionally behind Bottas in the opening two sectors before he surged ahead with a rapid final sector to join Hamilton on the front row.

Sergio Perez will start fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr, while Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded out the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat took P12 for AlphaTauri ahead of Lance Stroll, who was pushed out of the queue before the urgent final Q2 laps with a suspected issue, and George Russell and Vettel.

Russell set his sole lap in Q2 when he ran solo during a mid-session lull before Vettel’s crash and he went 0.5 seconds quicker than his Q1 time to make it out of the opening segment for the first time in three races.

In Q1, Russell’s last-gasp improvement to reach Q2 knocked out Romain Grosjean, who will start P16, as the Ferraris scraped through in P14 and P15 in the opening segment.

Antonio Giovinazzi ended up P17 ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, who, along with Grosjean, went into the final Q1 runs without a time set after being among the group of runners – also including Hamilton, Gasly and Magnussen – who had their opening laps deleted for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified last for the race where he will equal Rubens Barrichello’s record for most Formula 1 starts – assuming he takes the start on Sunday – after spinning on his full lap.

Raikkonen went into a 360 spin after striking the orange track limits deterrent kerb at the Turn 2 apex, which looped him around and he toured slowly around the inside of the ensuing long Turn 3 to avoid disrupting those cars following the Alfa Romeo.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this 96th career pole position. The opportunity to match Michael Schumacher’s 91 victories is possible by starting at the front of the pack. Bring on the Russian Grand Prix racing action.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.304
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:31.867
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.956
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:32.317
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:32.364
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:32.550
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:32.624
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:32.847
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.000
10 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:33.008
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.239
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.249
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.364
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:33.583
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.609
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:34.592
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.594
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.681
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:35.066
20 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:35.267

4 thoughts to “Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole”

  1. Russian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claimed his 96th pole position by a huge 0.563s from Max Verstappen for the Russian Grand Prix, despite coming within a matter of seconds of being knocked out of Q2 in a dramatic qualifying session at Sochi that saw Sebastian Vettel crash heavily to bring out the red flags.

    Hamilton had his Q2 time deleted for a track limits infringement leaving him in the drop zone when Vettel crashed at Turn 4 with just over two minutes left of the session, bringing out the red flags.

    When the session was restarted, Hamilton crossed the line with less than two seconds to spare to begin his flying run – his last chance to get into Q3. He then posted the fourth quickest time to make it to the pole position shoot out.

    A stunning first lap in Q3 from the six-time champion then saw him establish a new track record with a 1m 31.391s effort, before the Briton narrowly improved it on his second run to claim what was only his second pole position at the Sochi Autodrom – while Valtteri Bottas, who’d led Q1 and looked fast all weekend, will have been hugely disappointed not to at least make the front row, at a track he’s always shone on.

    Behind the top three, an excellent effort from Sergio Perez in an update-less Racing Point RP20 saw him claim fourth on the grid, ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth – the highest the Australian will ever have started in Sochi – with Perez’s team mate Lance Stroll unable to show what he could do after a mechanical issue saw him drop out in Q2.

    Carlos Sainz was the leading McLaren in P6, 1,246s off Hamilton’s pace, ahead of the second Renault and second McLaren of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris, with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly P9. Alex Albon, meanwhile, will have been disappointed to be starting the race 10th, the Thai driver 1.704s off the pace for Red Bull.

    Meanwhile, one cloud on Hamilton’s horizon will be the fact that he’ll start Sunday’s race on soft tyres, with a big crash for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Q2 – from which the German emerged unhurt, but having dropped out of the segment, along with team mate Charles Leclerc – forcing Hamilton to use the softest rubber to set his time, having had his first effort in the segment deleted. Bottas and Verstappen, meanwhile, will start the race on the mediums, giving them a strategic advantage.

    Q1 – Bottas on top as Russell stars for Williams and Raikkonen spins out of contention

    A confident Valtteri Bottas was straight into the 1m 32s on his first flying lap of the session, as he stopped the clocks with a 1m 32.656s. Hamilton ended the segment 0.327s adrift in P2, having had to do a steady second effort after getting his first lap deleted, after bumping over the Turn 2 kerbs on his first flying lap.

    There were deletions too for Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, meaning those three drivers needed strong final efforts to make it through to Q2. Ultimately only Gasly would do so, ending up P8 as Grosjean and Magnussen ultimately wound up 16th and 18th.

    With the track appearing to ramp up significantly, home hero Daniil Kvyat put in a super second effort to end up P3, 0.855s off Bottas’ leading time, with Esteban Ocon fourth and Max Verstappen rounding out the top five.

    George Russell put in another starring performance for Williams to end up P13 and ahead of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, both just making it through to Q2 – while Russell was over a second clear of his team mate Nicholas Latifi. Kimi Raikkonen was last, meanwhile, the Finn spinning harmlessly at Turn 2 on his final run.

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Latifi, Raikkonen

    Q2 – Ricciardo quickest, as Hamilton almost caught out after Vettel crash brings out red flags

    The drivers headed into Q2 reporting drops of rain falling on the Sochi Autodrom. They were light drops, though, and certainly not enough to call the intermediate tyres into action. The mediums, though, were summoned up by Verstappen, Hamilton and Bottas – Verstappen only managing to go seventh after the first runs, while a mistake for Bottas at Turn 18 left him just fourth.

    Hamilton made a similar mistake at Turn 18 but went even wider than his team mate, with another of his laps getting deleted – and a crucial one on the mediums tyres – as Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo wound up P1 after the first runs, ahead of Sainz and Perez.

    Sebastian Vettel was down in P14 and pushing hard to try and improve on his second run when he clonked the kerb at Turn 4, the rear of his SF1000 floating into a spin that saw him connect with the wall – Charles Leclerc following behind just narrowly avoiding his team mate. The red flag was called, meaning that Hamilton, with no time on the board, was under the cosh to get a lap in with 2m 15s off the session remaining.

    There were tense moments on the Mercedes pit wall, as the now soft-shod Hamilton then slid off the track on his out-lap of the restart at Turn 2, crossing the line with just 1.25s to spare. He’d ultimately have the pace to go P4 – but crucially will have to start on those soft tyres on Sunday, with Bottas and Verstappen on the more favoured mediums, Verstappen aborting his final run on the softs and leaving Ricciardo top.

    A frustrated Leclerc dropped out with his team mate in Q2, while Lance Stroll was unable to attempt a final run, after a mechanical gremlin hit the Canadian as he was queueing in the pit lane, leaving him P13 – Kvyat and Russell also failing to match their Q1 heroics and dropping out.

    Knocked out: Leclerc, Kvyat, Stroll, Russell, Vettel

    Q3 – Stupendous Hamilton effort gives him 96th pole as Verstappen beats Bottas to second

    If Hamilton had been rattled by his Q2 issues, he didn’t show it in Q3, his first lap a stunning 1m 31.391s, and a full 0.793s ahead of his team mate in P2, with Verstappen taking P3, narrowly ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was looking well hooked up around Sochi in the Renault.

    Hamilton had a new track record to his name, and Bottas a mountain to climb if he was to topple his team mate for the first time since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. Ultimately though, as Hamilton improved to yet another track record, a 1m 31.304s, Bottas had no answer.

    He looked scrappy on both of his Q3 runs, while a quite brilliant final sector from Verstappen on his final effort saw the Dutchman demote Bottas to P3 at the chequered flag, something that will be hard for the Finn to stomach given Mercedes’ pace advantage this weekend.

    So credit to Verstappen, who bagged both P2 and the more advantageous strategy of the two front row starters. But credit also to Sergio Perez, who despite having had to miss out on the RP20’s significant update after Stroll’s Mugello crash put the team on the back foot, claimed a fantastic fourth on the grid, beating Ricciardo by just 0.047s.

    In stark contrast to Verstappen, though, Albon could only claim P10, the Thai driver brought back down to Earth with a bump after the high of his Mugello podium.

    So, it’s Hamilton who once again claims the upper hand in the Mercedes camp on Saturday. But will the upper hand still be there on Sunday, with the disadvantage of having to run on the soft tyres – and with Bottas behind looking to slipstream him down to Turn 1, and Verstappen with plans to spoil Mercedes’ parade?

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has described the Sochi qualifying experience as “horrible” after Q2 dramas. He made it through to Q3 in the final second to score pole position. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton found qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix “horrible” after a lap ime deletion saw him come within a second of being knocked out in Q2.

    Hamilton swept to the 96th pole position of his F1 career on Saturday at the Sochi Autodrom, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by over half a second in the final stage of qualifying.

    But Hamilton was fortunate to make it that far after barely making it across the line in time to set a lap in Q2 after his initial effort was scrubbed.

    The stewards deleted Hamilton’s first lap in Q2 after he ran wide at Turn 18, prompting Mercedes to bring him in and opt for a second run on the medium compound tyre instead of keeping him out.

    A red flag caused by a crash for Sebastian Vettel forced Hamilton to abandon his second run, and left him up against it to get a lap time on the board with just 2m15s left on the clock.

    Hamilton crossed the line with one second to spare before going fourth with his lap on the soft tyre to make it into Q3, where he subsequently took pole position for the eighth time in 10 races.

    “It was one of the worst qualifying sessions,” Hamilton said. “It was horrible. Heart in your mouth, the whole way. The first one, I got the time taken away obviously, which is the first time I’ve gone wide there the whole weekend.

    “I wanted to stay out and do another lap just to get a banker, but they said come in and get new tyres, and then the red flag came out.

    “It was a real risk once we got out on that next tyre at the end, and ultimately I’m starting on the soft tyre which is not good.”

    Hamilton will start ahead of Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on the grid tomorrow, but feared he would be powerless to stop them from passing on the long run to the first braking zone at Turn 2.

    “It’s nice being on pole, but here’s probably the worst place to be on pole with the draggier cars this year,” Hamilton said.

    “Undoubtedly I’m most likely to get dragged past tomorrow. The guys I’m racing against, they are both on the medium tomorrow, so it’s definitely going to make it hard to win the race.

    “But nonetheless, I’m going to stay positive, try and figure out how can navigate my way through, get a good start, whatever it may be, and we’ll see.”

  3. Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was left feeling “angry” and explains the mix-up that contributed to Q2 exit. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Charles Leclerc felt “angry” after a mix-up over gaps to other cars on-track ended in him being knocked out in the second stage of Russian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Leclerc qualified 11th at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday as Ferrari saw both of its cars be eliminated in Q2, with Sebastian Vettel finishing 15th after a crash during the session.

    Leclerc missed out on a place in Q3 by just 0.043 seconds, losing out to Renault’s Esteban Ocon, who had been running close to the Ferrari driver during his final Q2 lap.

    The Monegasque driver felt that a mix-up over the gap to Ocon had contributed to his failure to make it through to the final stage of qualifying.

    “They told me that I had Ocon behind me, about one or two seconds from me,” Leclerc said.

    “Instead I think it was further back, I think I had more margin. Now I am angry [as] everything is still fresh.

    “I have to calm down. The race is tomorrow, the race is where they will award points.

    “But for me, it’s a difficult weekend. In practice I hadn’t driven well, then I started to find the rhythm in qualifying. But I was not able to show the potential of the car, and I’m sorry”.

    Leclerc was fortunate not to end his qualifying with a collision after almost hitting teammate Vettel following his crash at Turn 4.

    Vettel’s Ferrari was left at the exit of the corner, forcing Leclerc to take evasive action to avoid a collision with the sister SF1000 car.

    “It was quite scary, but hopefully he’s fine, and it was not much worse than that,” Leclerc said.

    “Now it’s more the disappointment of not going to Q3.”

    Vettel echoed Leclerc’s struggles with the Ferrari car around the Sochi Autodrom when reviewing his qualifying, saying that it forced him to take risks that ultimately led to his crash.

    “Already in Turn 2, I lost the car, and in Turn 4 I lost it again, and couldn’t catch it any more<" Vettel said. "In qualy I was struggling, especially in the first sector. I tried to obviously take a little bit more risk. "I lost the car already in 2 and again in 4. Not happy obviously, but yeah, compared to the morning session, I struggled quite a bit in the afternoon."

  4. Lewis Hamilton has avoided a sanction for a rules breach when rejoining the track at Turn 2 during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, ensuring he keeps pole position.

    Hamilton scored the 96th pole position of his F1 career in qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by half a second.

    But the FIA stewards said during qualifying that Hamilton faced an investigation after failing to adhere to race director Michael Masi’s instructions when rejoining the track at Turn 2.

    Masi informed drivers in his pre-race event notes that they must weave between some bright orange bollards in the run-off area if they missed the Turn 2 apex, before rejoining the track slowly.

    Hamilton failed to navigate the defined escape route in qualifying, prompting him to be investigated along with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

    The stewards said in a bulletin issued after qualifying that Hamilton accepted he had not followed the instructions set out by Masi, but gained no advantage and did rejoin the track safely, thus escaping a penalty.

    “The driver accepted that he had not followed the instructions and further he accepted that in a race there would be a penalty,” the stewards wrote.

    “The stewards determined that there was no advantage, as the relevant lap time was deleted.

    “Furthermore, to be consistent with previous decisions, the Stewards considered the precedents set out in the 2018 Spanish Gran Prix and the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix.”

    A similar notice was issued clearing Latifi, Magnussen and Grosjean as well, with all drivers being reminded that such a breach in the race would land them a five-second time penalty.

    The FIA has traditionally been strict on track limits at Sochi due to the significant amount of run-off area, prompting it to install the escape route at Turn 2 before leading into the fast left-hander at Turn 3.

    Hamilton almost failed to set a time in Q2 after running wide at Turn 18 on his first lap that was subsequently deleted for exceeding track limits.

    The Mercedes driver went on to make it through to Q3 before scoring pole position ahead of Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    Source: Motorsport.com

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