F1: Hamilton Secures Pole Amid Intense Sochi Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton survived to take his eight pole in 2020 in Russia. Image sourced from @MercedesAMGF1 via Twitter.

Mercedes’ Hamilton On Pole Position In Sochi.

The Great Escape

Hamilton stormed his way to a 96th career pole with a time of 1m 31.304’s, half a second ahead of his nearest challenger.

Subsequently, the Brit setting a new track record as he eyes up Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race victories.

However, it didn’t come easy for the reigning world champion.

As in Q2 Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari collided with the barrier outside of Turn 4, prompting the release of a red flag.

After having his first run deleted for exceeding track limits, Hamilton sat last with just over two minutes to make it to the timing line.

Narrowly starting his lap with under a second of a margin, thereafter progressing on the soft compound of tyre, which he’ll start the race on.

Hamilton: “It was one of the worst qualifying sessions. Heart-in-mouth.”

“I got the time taken away, then the red flag came out. It’s nice be on pole, but here’s probably the worst place to be on pole, with the draggier cars this year.”

Red Bull Splits The Black Arrows

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing secured his place on the front row after a late charge in qualifying saw him clinch second from the Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen put in a shift to split the Mercedes in Sochi. Image sourced from @RedBullRacing via Twitter.

Verstappen: “We were struggling a bit to find the right balance yesterday but through qualifying we started to find it.”

“I wasn’t expecting this result and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen.”

Valtteri Bottas, who was favourite for pole after practice, ended qualifying in third.

Although, the Finn seemed content with his starting position, referencing his 2017 victory at the track, where he took his maiden win.

Bottas: “It’s a pretty good place to start is third. I remember once I started third here, and I know what happened then.”

Mid-Field Margins

Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez finished the session in fourth, five hundredths of a second ahead of Renault’s Daniel Riccardo.

Daniel Riccardo on his way to fifth place for Enstone based outfit Renault at the Sochi Autodrom. Image sourced from @RenaultF1Team via Twitter.

The Australian will start fifth, in front of Carlos Sainz Jr. in sixth, which of whom he will replace at McLaren next year.

Behind, their team-mates of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris who will line up in seventh & eight on the grid respectively.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly recovered from a spin in final practice to edge out Alexander Albon in the works Red Bull.

Gasly finished in ninth place as Albon rounded out the top ten.

George Russell impressed once more in his Williams FW43, the Brit making his sixth appearance in Q2 of the season.

Russell will start tomorrow’s race from fourteenth position.

Russell: “That was more than we could have expected and hoped for, so I am very happy.”

“The car was feeling good, I was pleased with the lap and I think we are looking in really good shape for tomorrow.”

“Bad Boys, Bad Boys”

Hamilton, Grosjean, Magnussen and Latifi were all investigated post qualifying for violating track limits at Turn 2.

The FIA stated that all four had accepted they had not correctly followed the race directors’ instructions.

The stewards acknowledged this, confirming that no further action would be taken as result.

Qualifying Highlights