After Lewis Hamilton made a rare mistake into the pit wall, in the dying minutes of Q3, McLaren’s Lando Norris managed to secure his first ever pole position.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t set a timed lap in the first qualifying session, ending 20th as a result, likely due to the upcoming engine and grid penalty putting the Dutchman at the back of the pack.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc repeated Verstappen’s actions as the Monegasque did not set a timed lap, as a result of taking a new power unit he will start at the back of the grid in tomorrows race – ahead of Verstappen.
Alpha Rauri’s Pierre Gasly was at the head of the pit lane queue as the out-going field waited for the pit lane exit light to go green. Everyone, bar Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, were out on the intermediate tyres on their first flying laps.
As Q1 ventured towards 10 minutes, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi spun around on the exit of turn 16 and impeeded Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s run. While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired early in the first qualifying session, with 10 minutes remaining – likely due to the upcoming engine and grid penalty, which he will serve in tomorrows grand prix.
In the dying minutes of Q1, Red Bull’s only driver still out on track topped the timing boards with a 1:46.455. However, this was quickly topped by the Mercedes Finn, Valtteri Bottas, as he set a 1:46.396, 0.059 seconds faster than the Red Bull’s Mexican.
Eliminated (* – no time set)
20. Max Verstappen, Red Bull* – will serve grid and engine penalty
19. Nikita Mazepin, Haas
18. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
17. Mick Schumacher, Haas
16. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
Similar to Q1, Gasly was the first driver out of the pit lane and was followed out by the remainder of the grid part from Leclerc and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi. All the drivers were out on the inters. The French Alpha Tauri driver was also the first driver to set a respective lap time with a 1:46.671.
However, it wasn’t long before Mercedes’ topped the timing boards with a 1:46.096 (0.575 seconds faster than Gasly). But this was soon topped by the Briton’s Finnish teammate, who set a blistering 1:45.506 lap on the damp Sochi Autodrom.
Both Latifi and Leclerc were yet to set a lap time as the second qualifying session crossed into its final five minutes. With two minutes to go, Leclerc was soon seen to be walking out of the pit lane without setting a lap time which is likely due to his upcoming engine penalty.
Hamilton put more distance between himself and his teammate, after previously topping the board, as the defending champion set a 1:45.129 lap (0.377 seconds faster than Bottas).
It was soon announced after Q2, Latifi had also taken an engine penalty and will start at the back of the pack – ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen, respectively.
Eliminated (* – no time set)
15. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari* – will serve engine penalty tomorrow
14. Nicholas Latifi, Williams*
13. Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri
12. Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri
11. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
The Mercedes Finn, who seems to be well suited to the Sochi circuit, was the first driver to venture out into the Russian track and was the first to set a respective benchmark with a 1:44.710. But, this was soon beaten by Hamilton who set a 1:44.050 lap.
However, after all the drivers set their banker laps, the track looked to be dry enough for the slick compound tyres. Russell was the first driver to drive into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for the slick soft compound.
As Hamilton aborted his late flying lap in Q3, he made contact with the pit wall, damaging his front wing in the process. But the Briton had to be wheeled out of his pit box as Bottas was waiting in line behind him, in a double-stack manner.
Fortunately, the seven-time world champion was able to have his front wing replaced and sent back out onto the track with the red ringed soft compound tyres.
After the delight of Monza, with their first win in nine years, Norris put in a hot lap to put him on pole position for the first time in his career – the first pole position since Brazil 2012.
10. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
8. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
7. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
6. Fernando Alonso, Alpine
5. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. George Russell, Williams
2. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
1. Lando Norris, McLaren