Hamilton takes pole with outstanding lap, Verstappen in extremis gets P2
By Tomas Mota 26 September 2020 | 16:29
Lewis Hamilton has managed to take the 96th pole position of his career. On the Sochi Autodrome, the Brit drove his way to P1 with an outstanding lap, just ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. The Dutchman took the second starting place from Bottas in the final seconds.
During the first qualifying session it became clear again that Mercedes is on a different level than the rest of the teams. Red Bull immediately had a hard time. Max Verstappen did not get past fifth with his fastest time in Q1, and saw Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon finish ahead of him. George Russell was surprised, because the Brit was still on the verge to go through to Q2.
Stressful moments for Hamilton in Q2
The first drops of rain were detected at the beginning of Q2, but this had no major consequences. Hamilton, however, got very anxious, because his first timed lap was taken from him because he exceeded the track limits in the last corner. When he wanted to set a time in the final minutes, Sebastian Vettel crashed and the session was halted. The German had to content himself with P15, while teammate Charles Leclerc also got stranded in the second qualifying session.
With 2:15 minutes left on the clock in Q2, the track was clear and there was a considerable traffic jam when almost all drivers wanted to set a time in extremis. However, Hamilton managed to cross the line with one second left on the clock, allowing him to drive a flying lap. It eventually brought him to safety, although not that he was forced to drive on the softest tires. So he starts the race on that compound, unlike Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen. They will start on the medium compound.
Hamilton with record lap on pole
In Q3 it was Hamilton who was fastest in the first run. With a 1: 31.391 he was almost 0.8 seconds faster than teammate and number two Bottas. Verstappen and Ricciardo, who were at the top throughout qualifying, followed about two tenths behind the Finn. In his last lap, Hamilton again improved his best time by setting a 1: 31.304, an absolute record at the Sochi Autodrom.
Verstappen pressed out a very strong lap in the absolute final phase. The Dutchman seemed to be heading for a P3, but still outwitted Bottas in his last lap. As a result, the Red Bull Racing driver starts the Russian Grand Prix from second place, behind Hamilton, but ahead of Bottas, Perez and Ricciardo in that order. Alexander Albon did not get further than P10. (photo: Mercedes AMG F1)
- 12/10 Marko is eager to take over Honda engines: "Need a decision from the FIA"
- 12/10 Honda praises Verstappen: "He is able to achieve stable results"
- 12/10 Albon after DNF: "I wasn't very happy with my race"
- 12/10 Marko: "Had Vettel made a proposal, but he wanted to go to Aston Martin"
- 11/10 Verstappen happy with P2: 'Mercedes was too fast'.