Lando Norris gets the pole position for the first time in his F1 career in a dramatic qualifying at Sochi.
Despite difficult weather conditions and numerous delays and cancelations of racing sessions, the qualifying for the Russian GP started on time.
The track was still wet after torrential rain, so the drivers went out on intermediate tires. However, Fernando Alonso decided to drive with wet tires on. Charles Leclerc took the early lead in Q1, being 1.227 seconds quicker than Pierre Gasly. A bit later, the Frenchman got ahead again.
Antonio Giovinazzi’s struggles at Sochi continued as he spun in the final sector with Leclerc narrowly avoiding the Alfa Romeo. At the same time, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas went to the top of the standings. Max Verstappen went to the pits after an installation lap ending the day due to a grid penalty on Sunday.
Alonso switched to intermediates, which paid off – the Alpine was in P3 for a bit. Sergio Perez got a great lap, which allowed him to take over the lead. However, Hamilton set the fastest lap of Q1 at the checkered flag. Raikkonen, Schumacher, Giovinazzi, Mazepin, and Verstappen were eliminated.
Gasly started racing action in Q2 and his first lap was good enough for 3rd for the time being as Hamilton and Norris went quicker. Later on, Bottas beat his teammate’s result by nearly six-tenths of a second. Hamilton responded – he was a tenth quicker.
The Briton improved his lap time once again at the end of the session, cementing his lead. Vettel, Gasly, Tsunoda, Latifi, and Leclerc were eliminated after Q2.
The time came for the shootout for the pole position. The track was still too wet for slicks, so everyone was on intermediate tires once again. Hamilton got to the provisional pole after the first flying lap, followed by Norris and Bottas. George Russell made a risky decision and put soft tires. Everyone reacted and went to the pits.
Hamilton’s day got a big upheaval as he hit the wall at the pit lane entry, damaging the car. The time was running out and the drivers started setting flying laps on slicks. Mercedes drivers struggled as Bottas did not improve and Hamilton spun. The others, though, kept improving and that’s where the surprises came.
Sainz went quickest, but not for long as Norris went even better and took his maiden pole position in Formula 1. Russell’s gamble worked out as the Williams driver qualified 3rd for the second time in four events.
Results of the Formula 1 Russian GP qualifying:
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+2.963|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+3.344|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:46.573|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||No time|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||No time|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:49.586|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:51.023|
|20||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||No time|