Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes continues to dominate at Sochi

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

Lewis Hamilton secured his 97th carrier pole position in the qualifying session for the Russian Grand Prix. With failing to extract the maximum performance of his car, Valtteri Bottas finished behind second fastest Max Verstappen.

The fast Russian – Q1

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas posted the best time of the weekend with a 1m32.656. The Finn only needed a single lap to secure his place in the next Q2 segment. However, his teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled with the balance of his car and needed to set two timed laps.

Max Verstappen was the only driver to set his best lap in Q1 on the yellow-walled mediums. Daniel Ricciardo also used the C4 compound, but he achieved his best time on the red-walled tyres during his second stint.

Sebastian Vettel had to worry in the closing stages of the session, but he managed to get himself through into the next qualifying segment with the 15th fastest time. His teammate Charles Leclerc gambled in Q1 by opting against a second run on a fresh set of tyres, but he got himself through in the 14th position in the end.

At the end of Q1, Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi and Kimi Räikkönen were elimated, meaning that they will start tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix in that order.

Vettel with huge crash – Q2

The two Mercedes drivers and Verstappen went out on the medium compound that is deemed to be the better starting tyre for the race. Although Hamilton set the best time of the weekend on the mediums, he had his time deleted for exceeding the track limits at the final turn.

Daniel Ricciardo demonstrated the competitiveness of his Renault car on a circuit where staightline speed is vital, setting the best lap time with a 1’32.218. Carlos Sainz was also quick with his Renault-powered McLaren, showing that the French engine is very strong in 2020.

On his final flying lap, Vettel lost control of the back end of his Ferrari SF1000 at Turn 4. The German was too aggressive over the inside kerb which unsettled his car. Vettel crashed into the barriers and rotated back on to the racing line with Leclerc going over the front wing of his teammate. The session was red-flagged.

With just over two minutes left on the clock, drivers still had the chance to improve their times. With Hamilton making a mistake on his first timed lap, he needed to set a lap time that was good enough for Q3. The Briton did not fail to achieve it, but he used the soft compound for his best lap, meaning that only Bottas and Verstappen will start tomorrow's race on the C4 medium rubber.

Verstappen on a mission – Q3

After the scare in Q2, Hamilton was able to unleash the full potential of his W11. The Briton posted a time of 1m31.304, setting a new lap record which previously belonged to Bottas.

The Finn who usually goes well at the Sochi Autodrom failed to find his rhythm in the last part of the qualifying segment.

Max Verstappen was the last driver to complete a flying lap. The Dutchman was able to find half a second compared to his previous best time. His last effort of 1m31.867 was enough for the second spot on the grid which meant that he prevented Mercedes to secure another front row lock-out.

Alexander Albon’s afternoon was less successful as he finished down in 10th position, 1.2s behind his teammate. Although Daniel Ricciardo was looking for a second row starting position, he will only start from 5th place on the grid after Sergio Perez delivered a strong lap in the dying minutes of the qualifying session.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:32.9831:32.8351:31.30419
233Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:33.6301:33.1571:31.86721
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:32.6561:32.4051:31.95619
411Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:33.7041:33.0381:32.31715
53Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:33.6501:32.2181:32.36415
655Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:33.9671:32.7571:32.55015
731Esteban OconRENAULT1:33.5571:33.1961:32.62420
84Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:33.8041:33.0811:32.84719
910Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:33.7341:33.1391:33.00021
1023Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:33.9191:33.1531:33.00819
1116Charles LeclercFERRARI1:34.0711:33.23910
1226Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:33.5111:33.24916
1318Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:33.8521:33.36411
1463George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:34.0201:33.58311
155Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:34.1341:33.60911
168Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:34.5927
1799Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:34.5946
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:34.6818
196Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:35.0665
207Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:35.2675