The Russian GP qualifying session seemed like it would be a predictable affair with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking an engine-change penalty and starting from the back, you would expect Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to take a clean pole with his wingman, Valtteri Bottas, behind him but that isn’t at all how things turned out.
The first two and a half sessions were on Intermediate wet tires but as a dry line appeared after the first run in Q3, everyone dove into the pits for soft slicks and this is when the trouble for Mercedes began.
Hamilton came into the pit entrance to get a set of slicks after making two runs on Intermediates and it was an interesting, if not safe, decision to try a second run and wait for George Russell in his Williams to show if the slicks were good or not. What it did was cost them valuable time so they were cutting very close.
Unfortunately, Lewis clouted the pit entrance wall damaging his front wing and as he limped into the box, this held Valtteri Bottas up as the team desperately searched for a new front with for Lewis’s car. Ultimately they had to wheel Lewis out of the way, service Bottas and then move Lewis back in to place to fit the front wing.
The time lost due to the incident meant that both drivers only had one lap on slicks to run for pole while other runners had two laps. It was the second lap of Lando Norris in his McLaren that claimed his first-ever pole position and kept the McLaren excitement running on the heels of their 1, 2 win just two weeks ago.
As Mercedes sank to 4th and 7th for Hamilton and Bottas, it was Carlos Sainz who left to 2nd with George Russell taking third place.
If Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton aren’t reading the public noticed nailed to the door of their garage about the tangible threat that Max Verstappen poses, perhaps they are now reading the other notices nailed there which merely suggest that Lando Norris is a British force to be reckoned with and he has George Russell behind him as well as the other young guns in the form of Leclerc, Sainz, and Gasly. The new class in F1 school has arrived and they care very little about Lewis Hamilton’s titles and records because they are here and ready to win.
Russian GP qualifying results:
|2||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||1m47.924s||1m46.521s||1m42.51s|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m48.322s||1m46.36s||1m44.956s|
|9||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull-Honda||1m46.455s||1m45.834s||1m45.337s|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||1m47.205s||1m46.573s|
|16||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m49.586s|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||1m51.023s|
|20||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Honda|