Russian GP: Hamilton survives Q2 scare en route to Sochi pole

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Lewis Hamilton survived scares in Q1 and Q2 to claim an ultimately comfortable pole for the Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was just a few seconds away from starting 15th at one point, but refocused and was in a league of his own in Q3, to put himself in the ideal place to go for the record-equalling 91st win on Sunday,


After a sunny final practice, Sochi turned dark and cloudy for the start of qualifying though it wouldn't stop Mercedes from leading Q1.

For Bottas it was routine as he went fastest, though Hamilton would need two flying laps as his initial time was deleted for track limits at Turn 2.

In the fight to avoid elimination, Esteban Ocon was under the most pressure in 16th after his first run, Sebastian Vettel and Alex Albon were also dangerously close to the knockout zone.

All three would progress, however, only just in Vettel's case, and instead, there were few surprises in the bottom five with the two Haas', two Alfa Romeo's and Nicholas Latifi going out.

Romain Grosjean would be 16th ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and teammate Kevin Magnussen as a spin at Turn 2 meant Kimi Raikkonen will start last on Sunday.


At the front, both Mercedes' and Max Verstappen opted for the medium tyre for their first run to try and start the race on the more durable compound.

Hamilton would go almost a second faster than Bottas in P1 but had his time deleted for just exceeding track limits at the final corner, while Valtteri and Max were only fourth and seventh respectively.

That led to a tough call on what to use for the second run, but both Silver Arrows stuck to their strategy with fresh mediums.

While Bottas improved, Hamilton's run would be disrupted by a red flag caused by Sebastian Vettel after he crashed on the exit of Turn 4.

The German lost the rear of his Ferrari on the exit and spun into the barrier, almost being hit by teammate Charles Leclerc as his car sat on the racing line.

That left just 2m15s on the clock for Hamilton to complete an outlap and ensure his place in Q3 when the session resumed.

Crossing the line with just seconds to spare, the world champion did, eventually, set a time good enough for fourth, though he will now start on the soft compound on Sunday.

Instead, it was Ferrari who were the big losers with Leclerc 11th and Vettel 15th after his crash.

Daniil Kvyat will be frustrated with 12th, while Lance Stroll was only 13th as he was returned to the garage with an apparent technical issue during the red flag.

George Russell completed just one run in Q2 and was 14th.


After the Q2 scare, it was soon back to business as usual for Hamilton in the fight for pole going almost eight-tenths faster than Bottas in the first run.

The Finn was still fast enough for second though with Verstappen just 0.004s faster than Ricciardo in third.

Hamilton would secure his 96th pole with a new lap record on his second run, but more significantly, Verstappen was able to jump Bottas into second putting him a great place to attack Lewis at the start on Sunday.

Bottas dropped to third with Sergio Perez jumping up to fourth in the Racing Point as Ricciardo slipped back to fifth.

Carlos Sainz will start sixth ahead of Ocon and Lando Norris as Renault and McLaren continued their epic battle.

At the tail of the top 10, Pierre Gasly put one over the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, beating the Thai driver by just 0.008s.

Full results from qualifying can be seen below: