In qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, Lando Norris became the youngest driver to claim a pole in Formula One. With a fantastic final lap for McLaren, the British driver conquered tough conditions on a wet track in Sochi. Hamilton’s error was unusual, and he finished fourth. Ferrari had Carlos Sainz in second place, with George Russell of Williams taking third.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, with Max Verstappen starting from the back of the field after receiving penalties for changing engines.
Heavy raining started to fall in the early hours of qualifying, with final practice postponed due to the weather. However, by the time practice began, it had briefly stopped, allowing the cars on – albeit on a slippery track.
Norris took it in his stride as the track dried up in Q3, while Mercedes appeared to have the whip hand. They were fast at this venue all weekend and looked to be in a league of their own. Hamilton had the edge with a 1min 44.050sec on his first hot lap in Q3, nearly seven-tenths.
However, there was still more to come in a season that had been somewhat unexpected. On his return into the pits, Hamilton collided with the wall and damaged his left front wing, which had to be replaced. Mercedes got him out; however, only just enough time to put in one fast lap and a drying line allowing teams to gamble on slick tires.
Norris, who had time to get his tires up to temperature during a number of laps, took full advantage, posting a tremendous final effort of 1min 41.993sec – more than half a second clear of Sainz. Hamilton, with only one warm-up lap, could not heat his tires enough and spun on his last attempt.
Hamilton must increase his point lead over Verstappen by five in the world championship here, but he has a difficult task ahead of him from fourth on the grid.
Max Verstappen drove around one lap on Saturday, but he did not establish a time due to the fact that he will begin at the back of the grid following his fourth new power unit of the weekend. Red Bull took the loss of a penalty at Sochi because Verstappen had only three permitted each season, and he was damaged in the second engine when he was hit by Hamilton at Silverstone. The Dutchman had already incurred a three-place penalty for colliding with Hamilton at Monza, and because Mercedes was expected to dominate in Russia, this race was seen as the best opportunity to mitigate the harm caused by his suspension.
Alonso and Esteban Ocon were seventh and tenth for Alpine, with Bottas in seventh. Lance Stroll was eighth for Aston Martin, while Sergio Pérez completed the top ten for Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc started from 15th for Ferrari, but with a fourth new power unit, he will start from 19th. Williams driver Nicholas Latifi also took new power unit parts and was in 14th, but he will start from 18th.
With Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda in the AlphaTauris of Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel was in 11th place, while Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were in 12th and 13th for Aston Martin.
Alfa Romeo drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi were in 16th and 18th, while Haas drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were 17th and 19th.
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