Lewis Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole
September 27 2020 , 1:15 am
Lewis Hamilton took a dramatic pole position at the Russian Grand Prix despite coming within a second of qualifying down in 15th.
The Briton had no time in the second knockout session when it stopped after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed.
It was restarted with just two minutes and 15 seconds left and Hamilton made it to the line with a second to spare.
But in the final session Hamilton was flawless as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped Valtteri Bottas to second.
Hamilton was 0.652 seconds quicker than team-mate Bottas, while Verstappen took his place on the front row 0.563secs behind the world champion.
Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 grand prix victories this weekend.
Hamilton described the session as “one of the worst qualifyings – it was horrible, heart in mouth the whole way”.
“I am starting on the soft tyre, which is not good,” Hamilton said. “It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole and undoubtedly I am probably going to get drafted by the cars behind me and they are starting on the medium and that is definitely the better tyre.”
Hamilton had also faced a potential penalty for ignoring the race director’s instructions when he ran wide at Turn Two in the first qualifying session and not rejoining in the correct manner, but no further action was taken.
Bottas said: “It has been looking pretty good all weekend but Q3 I found some gains but the others found more.
“Here it is pretty sensitive with the tyres getting it right. The first run, the tyres were too cold and the second one, I don’t know. It’s a pretty good place to start third here and I am on the right tyre as well.”
Verstappen’s pace was unexpected after Red Bull had appeared to struggle through practice.
“It felt really good,” he said. “Just trying to find the right balance. Second run, made a few changes and that gave me more grip. You really need good entry grip on this track and it was a really nice lap to drive.”
Verstappen was nearly 1.2secs quicker than team-mate Alex Albon, who qualified 10th.