Russian GP – Hamilton survives Q2 crisis to take pole at Sochi

Lewis Hamilton survived a major scare to take pole position in a champion’s display surviving a Q2 elimination by a hair, with Max Verstappen joining him on the front row.

Hamilton’s first Q2 time was deleted and a big crash from Sebastian Vettel at turn four with a few minutes to go brought out the red flags as Hamilton was due to complete his second run and comfortably make the top ten.

That meant all the cars went out with just over two minutes left, and Hamilton at the back of that train, but he managed to get around and cross the line with a second to go, reaching fourth and eight tenths above the cutoff time.

A disappointing Valtteri Bottas will start third after dropping a tenth to Verstappen, while Hamilton was half a second ahead of the Dutchman and primed to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins.

Russian GP: Hamilton back on top by miles in FP3

Russian GP: Mercedes scruffy in FP2 but still a second clear

F1 championship standings

However, he’ll start on the soft tyres instead of the optimal mediums that Verstappen and Bottas will be sporting.

Bottas didn’t hook up either of his Q3 laps despite optimism coming into the weekend and will be behind Verstappen, but given the long run to the first braking zone that won’t be such a disadvantage.

Sergio Perez produced a strong final lap to take fourth (initially third before Verstappen pushed him down) ahead of the two Renaults and Carlos Sainz, who would all have been hoping to get higher up based off free practice.

Lando Norris was a bit off the pace in eighth, while Pierre Gasly was an impressive ninth and Alex Albon rounded out the top ten.

Hamilton’s late Q2 charge pushed Charles Leclerc into the dropzone, completing a disappointing day for Ferrari after they’d looked to be a dark horse in practice.

Kvyat had a storming Q1 and placed third on his home turf but fell a bit short in the second session.

Lance Stroll was one of the big losers of the red flag as his car packed up in the queue to get back underway which consigned him to 13th place while George Russell had a good session to qualify 14th.

Williams said they were pursuing a different strategy this weekend of focussing on optimising race pace, so if there’s anything in that then Russell could be on for a good result.