Updated: Feb 28
Lando Norris secures his first-ever Formula One Pole position for the Russian Grand Prix following a dramatic wet-dry qualifying! Carlos Sainz Jnr. will start second as he achieves his highest qualifying result with George Russell in third – his second top-three start in four races!
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Esmée Koppius
The main story of Q3 was Lewis Hamilton’s costly mistake on pit entry as the track began to dry. Being one of the last to pit in to put on slicks, the World Champion was already up against the clock with time for two attempts quickly slipping away from him. Matters were made worse when he slid into the wall on pit entry and arrived at his Mercedes garage a severely damaged front wing. The costly wing change also held up teammate Valterri Bottas with both drivers only having time for one attempt on dry tyres. Meanwhile, George Russell, who had made the switch to slicks first, along with much of the top 10 were able to squeeze two attempts in with most only finding time on their final lap as tyre temperatures were a prevailing issue.
Despite these issues, Hamilton’s time on Intermediates was still enough for fourth, beating out Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso who will form the third row of the grid. Valtteri Bottas will start seventh with Lance Stroll to his side in eighth, ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon who round out the top 10!
Q2 was still very much Intermediate running with many choosing to use scrubbed tyres with the exception of Russell who risked a fresh set to boost himself into Q3. Sebastian Vettel narrowly missed out on Q3 and was audibly upset over the radio when his engineer informed him that he will start 11th. Pierre Gasly too was disappointed with today’s pace, lining up 12th ahead of teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Nicholas Latifi and Charles Leclerc didn’t set a lap time in Q2 as they will be taking engine penalties and will line up at the back of the grid – though Latifi still left the pits to ensure he started ahead of the Ferrari. Both set times quick enough in Q1 to get through to Q2 to ensure they were ahead of the RedBull of Verstappen who too is taking penalties and didn’t set a lap time all session – Even engine penalties come with their share of tactics and politics!
Kimi Räikkönen will start 14th (thanks to engine penalties) having missed out on Q2 ahead of Mick Schumacher. Antonio Giovinazzi span in Q1 and struggled to put together a clean lap and so will lineup 16th with Nikita Mazepin behind, who was woefully off the pace. Latifi, Leclerc and Verstappen will take the final spots on the grid with each taking fresh engines for tomorrows race!