Lewis Hamilton, for the 96th time in his career, will start from pole position in Formula 1. But this Saturday’s (26) victory at the Sochi Olympic Park had dramatic contours. The six-time world champion had no time on record when Sebastian Vettel hit hard at the end of Q2 and caused a red flag. On the lap of the session, Lewis managed to open a fast lap with soft tires, escaped the elimination in the choke and, minutes later, in Q3, he shone again: with a real ‘storm’ and track record and the lap in 1min31s304, the Brit put Mercedes # 44 again in pole position, the eighth time this season alone.
Incredibly, Valtteri Bottas was also overtaken by Max Verstappen, who managed a redemptive lap on the last attempt in Q3 to start in second position, 0s563 behind Hamilton. The Finn was left with a place in the second row, where he will start alongside Sergio Pérez’s Racing Point.
The complicating factor for Hamilton will be at the start. The change in the dynamics of the session after Vettel’s crash meant that Mercedes’ strategy for Lewis, of starting with medium tires, was discarded so that it was possible to guarantee a safe lap to move to Q3. Lewis will then start on soft tires against the Verstappen and Bottas midfielders.
Daniel Ricciardo, in the wake of a great weekend with Renault, took fifth place in the standings, followed by McLaren by Carlos Sainz. The fourth row will also have Renault and McLaren, with Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris. Pierre Gasly, from AlphaTauri, and Alexander Albon, with the second Red Bull, complete the top 10 of the Russian grid.
Ferrari lived another difficult day. In addition to the strong beat suffered by Vettel, Maranello’s team also bitterly eliminated Charles Leclerc, who will open the race in 11th, four positions ahead of the four-time champion.
The start of the Russian GP will be earlier than usual and is scheduled for 8:10 am (Brasília time). Before, at 7 am, the BIG PRIZE starts the live broadcast of the pre-race BRIEFING with the analysis of the qualifying training and the latest information coming directly from Sochi. Everything on the channel BIG PRIZE no YouTube.
Find out how was the classification of the Russian Formula One GP
Q1: Russell goes to Q2 and Räikkönen is last
With 26ºC of ambient temperature, 34ºC on the asphalt and the sky very cloudy, but with only 10% chance of rain, according to the official meteorology of Formula 1, the 20 drivers left the boxes towards the first phase of the classification in Sochi. George Russell, with Williams, pulled the queue in Q1, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, these two favorites for pole position.
In the first direct confrontation between the two drivers of the six-time team, better for the Finn, who turned 1min32s656. Hamilton’s lap was so bad that it didn’t even take much into account, with the Briton standing 1s6 behind his teammate. Lewis’ time was eventually deleted for exceeding the track limits on turn 2.
In the next round, Hamilton was much better, but not enough to touch the mark established by Bottas by setting 1min32s983, 0s327 behind the time recorded by the Finn.
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Following the laps, Sergio Pérez was placed third with Racing Point, followed by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, fifth with Red Bull. Charles Leclerc was able to put Ferrari in sixth, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll closed the provisional top-10. From the third to the 13th, Russell, the difference was less than 1s.
The final minutes of Q1 reserved moments of intense traffic with a good part of the pilots trying to make that lap to guarantee themselves in the second phase of the session. Esteban Ocon, who was in 16th place, and secured with ease when climbing to third place, being followed by Ricciardo.
Sebastian Vettel was in danger of being eliminated in Q1, but the four-time champion secured himself with a comeback that put him at ease in the second half. Another highlight at the end was the presence of Daniil Kvyat, with a big lap, to put AlphaTauri in third. And Russell, already on the checkered flag, advanced again to Q2 this season.
Ultimately Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi and Kimi Räikkönen were eliminated, who will start last at the Russian Grand Prix.
Q2: Vettel’s strong beat causes drama for Hamilton
Among the 15 riders who advanced to the next stage of the session, three returned to the track wearing medium tires: Bottas, Hamilton and Verstappen, trying a different strategy for the start this Sunday.
In the opening laps of Q2, Pérez was the first to report the presence of a few drops of rain over a fast lap. With the track dry, however, Hamilton put almost 1s ahead of Bottas to score 1min32s085. However, the lap time of the six-time champion was deleted for exceeding the track limits of the last corner of the track, at 18.
So, without Hamilton’s time, Ricciardo, who took 1: 32.218, took the lead, followed by Sainz, Pérez and only then Bottas, in fourth position. Lewis had no lap record due to the penalty imposed and would have, in practice, just another chance to try to secure himself in Q3.
In the final moments of Q2, Bottas recorded another lap, but it was not even good enough to beat Ricciardo, being 0187 behind the Australian. Hamilton was also on the track and was coming to make sure he had plenty of time in the final stage of qualifying.
Until the imponderable went back to touring the season.
Vettel, who was also trying to put himself in Q3, rode at curve4 and hit the protective barrier very hard. Charles Leclerc, who was right behind, narrowly missed the teammate’s car. The race direction triggered the red flag, which in practice put Hamilton’s chances of making it through to the last part of the session.
The Briton was behind a row of cars lined up in the pit lane before the session restarted. Hamilton sent the strategy once drawn to the broad beans and returned with soft tires. Who had problems, even before leaving the track, was Stroll, who stood in line and had to be collected back to the Racing Point pits. At this moment, in a tense moment, Verstappen passed Albon still in the pit lane to be the first to make his quick lap.
With the track finally cleared, the scene was racing in full qualification. The drama was even greater for Hamilton, who went straight on turn 2 and lost even more time. In the end, for very, very little, Lewis managed to open his fast lap at the limit.
It ended up working. With a slow lap by Mercedes standards, but enough to put himself in the Q3, Hamilton passed 0s617 slower than Ricciardo’s. Bottas, Sainz, Pérez, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Albon, Verstappen and Ocon also advanced. Ferrari bitterly eliminated with its two cars. Leclerc was out, in addition to Daniil Kvyat, Stroll, Russell and Vettel.
Q3: Temporal secures pole for Hamilton in Sochi
In the last phase of the session, all ten drivers went on the track with soft tires. The fight for pole was clear and boiled down to the duel between Hamilton and Bottas.
Ricciardo, great all weekend, led the Q3 with 1min32s364 in the beginning, but was overcome by Bottas in the sequence. Seconds later, Hamilton set a time: 1min31s391, an exceptional mark that put him on provisional pole.
Among the two Mercedes drivers, Bottas was the one who opened his last quick lap attempt first. In the first sector, the Finn passed above the partial established by Hamilton and was much slower in the sequence of the lap, getting 0655 behind the time of the team partner.
In the end, Hamilton set Sochi’s new record at 1min31s304, shone after the drama and secured an incredible pole in Formula 1. And Bottas, surprisingly, was overtaken by the Red Bull of Verstappen, who will split the front row with the six-time world champion.
Formula 1 2020, Russian GP, Sochi, Grid Start:
|2||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:31.867||+0.563|
|4||S PÉREZ||Racing Point Mercedes||1:32.317||+1.013|
|6||C SAINZ JR||Mclaren renault||1:32.550||+1.246|
|8||L NORRIS||Mclaren renault||1:32.847||+1.543|
|9||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||1:33.000||+1.696|
|10||A ALBON||Red Bull Honda||1:33.008||+1.704|
|12||D KVYAT||AlphaTauri Honda||1:33.249||+1.945|
|13||L STROLL||Racing Point Mercedes||1:33.364||+2.060|
|14||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||1:33.583||+2.279|
|16||R GROSJEAN||Haas Ferrari||1:34.592||+3.288|
|17||TO GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:34.594||+3.290|
|18||K MAGNUSSEN||Haas Ferrari||1:34.681||+3.377|
|19||N LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:35.066||+3.762|
|20||K RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:35.267||+3.963|