Lewis Hamilton claimed the pole position for the 2020 Russian Grand Prix after a near miss on the Q2 lap which could have prevented him from setting a time due to Sebastian Vettel crash. Max Verstappen was able to defeat Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas to the second place.
Lewis Hamilton is also facing a post race investigation for track violation together with Nicolas Latifi, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in Q1. The 6-time world champion will be the only one to start Sunday’s race on soft tyres after his near miss in Q2.
In the earlier session where drops of rain were reported on the track, Mercedes sent out their two W11’s on medium tyres as Redbull Racing did with Verstappen’s RB16. Moments later the Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Bottas were forced to run on hard compound tyres as Hamilton had his time deleted for a track limits violation at thre final corner. Bottas, nevertheless was able to set a time good enough to get him to Q3, but Hamilton on the other hand had to halt his second run after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed around turn 4 making the session to be suspended.
The 4-time world champion clipped the kerb on the inside of the right hand of the turn as he lost his rear spinning to the wall on the outside damaged his front wing which was immediately knocked by his teammate Charles Leclerc with his front wheel, Leclerc was closely following Vettel when the incident occured.
When the session restarted Mercedes sent out Hamilton on the soft tyres which meant the Bottas would be going out on the medium compound tyres. Verstappen also went out on the medium tyres and went ahead to lead the other cars recording 2m 15s after Vettel’s crash. He also ran on the soft tyres and seemed to improve on his previous Q2 best but later abandoned the run, which means he will be starting on the hard tyre, which will be better for the Sunday’s race.
Hamilton had a wide slide at turn 2 on his last lap as he was desperately trying to make the the best time, made it to the finish line barely a second remaining to the end of the session. He got the 4th fastest time in Q2, in which Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest. A frustrated Charles Leclerc was knocked out in Q2.
In Q3 Lewis Hamilton lead the pack with 1m 31.391s, which meant Bottas had to close a 0.793s gap in the final session of the qualifiers. The Finn was however able to improve in his final run despite a small mistake on the kerb at the exit of turn 2 but was still 0.5 seconds behind, even before Hamilton completed his last lap. Verstappen set his final lap later after the Mercedes W11s and was running behind Valtteri Bottas in the two first sections but later forged ahead of him as he speeded up in the final sector taking the 2nd pole after Hamilton.
Sergio Perez(Racing Point) will starth in 4th position ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who rounded up the top 5. Carlos Sainz(Mclaren) was closely followed by Ricciardo’s tammate Esteban Ocon as they were 6th and 7th respectively. Lando Norris(Mclaren), Pierre Gasly(AlphaTauri) and Redbull’s Alexander Albon rounded the top ten positions.
Daniil Kvyat took the 12th place for AlphaTauri as Lance Stroll(Racing Point) closely followed in 13th despite being pulled out of the pack in the final Q2 laps with a suspected issue. The same happened to George Russel(Williams Racing) and Sebastian Vettel. Russell ran for only 1 lap in Q2 and was 0.5 seconds faster than his Q1 record time. He was able to knock out Romain Grosjean(Haas) in Q1 as he was desperate to get to the Q2. Grosjean finished the session in 16th place.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was 17th, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Nicolas Latiffi who along with Grosjean went into the final Q1 runs without set time after being among a group of drivers including Hamilton and Gasly, who had their opening laps deleted for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2. Kimi Raikkonnen came last in the qualifying session for the race that he will be equalling Reuben Barrichello’s record for most F1 starts.