Norris on pole position for Russian GP, after Hamilton touches wall

25-09-2021 14:00 | Updated: 25-09-2021 14:15
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Norris on pole position for Russian GP, after Hamilton touches wall

Lando Norris has qualified on pole position for the Russian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton hit the wall in the pits. The seven-time World Champion is looking to regain the lead in the title race with Max Verstappen who starts at the back of the grid due to an engine change. On the Sochi circuit, Mercedes once again reigned supreme until the final session. 

The ever drying track caused tyre headaches for those who made it through to Q3. A dry line started to emerge, but some areas remained soaked. Hamilton got ahead early in Q3, beating his teammate by over half a second. Lando Norris looked strong in the conditions and split the two Mercedes. George Russell made the first move to the slick tyres, followed by McLaren and Carlos Sainz

Mercedes decided to follow suit, but Hamilton hit the wall on the way to the pit box. He required a new front wing but struggled to heat his tyres on his out-lap. This opened the door for a mixed grid which sees Norris alongside Carlos Sainz. George Russell reached third-place. 

Max Verstappen will start from the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for introducing a fourth engine into his pool. The Dutchman is joined by Leclerc and Latifi at the back of the grid for similar reasons. 

Q1

Preparations were made for a delayed start to qualifying, with suggestions that Michael Masi and the FIA were going to need to postpone the session until Sunday morning. But a break in heavy rain allowed qualifying to start on time. The track required intermediate tyres and was remarkably in good condition given the strength of the weather earlier in the day that caused FP3 to be cancelled. 

Fitted with a new engine, Max Verstappen came out of the garage early but didn't set a timed lap. He will start at the back of the grid due to the penalty enforced with a fourth new power unit. Antonio Giovinazzi spun and Charles Leclerc nearly collected the Alfa Romeo driver. At the halfway stage, Giovinazzi was joined by his teammate Raikkonen in the drop zone, alongside both Haas drivers and Verstappen. 

Russell found himself at risk, but he continued his fine Saturday form by lifting himself up to 11th on his final lap. Despite hard efforts, neither Alfa Romeo or Haas managed to escape the drop zone. At the top of the timesheet, Hamilton set the fastest time, followed by his teammate Bottas. 

OUT - 20th Verstappen, 19th Mazepin, 18th Giovinazzi, 17th Schumacher, 16th Raikkonen

Q2

The track continued to dry out, but fresh intermediate tyres were applied for Q2. Bottas sat 16 seconds behind Hamilton after his first timed lap. He ran wide and had to go through the marked barriers at turn two. He then submitted a strong lap to go fastest by half a second. 

At the halfway stage, both Williams cars, Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and Leclerc sat in the drop zone. By using his fourth set of inters, Russell was able to escape the elimination zone. This pushed Sebastian Vettel down to 11th, and Gasly into 12th. 

OUT - 15th Leclerc, 14th Latifi, 13th Tsunoda, 12th Gasly, 11th Vettel

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