Lando Norris Takes First F1 Pole In Russia


Image for article titled Lando Norris Takes First F1 Pole In Russia, George Russell On Second Row

Photo: Yuri Kochetkov – Pool (Getty Images)

It’s been a stunning year for McLaren, and it has only gotten better after Lando Norris crossed the line with the fastest time set in qualifying ahead of the Russian Grand Prix. But perhaps as equally stunning is the story of Williams’ George Russell, who took the car to a third-place starting position.

This weekend’s Russian Grand Prix has been a wet one, with the support paddock frequently flooding. While the first qualifying session wasn’t soaking wet, it was still damp enough for the grid to head out on either wet weather or intermediate tires.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly started out the session in fine form, frequently topping the charts. But out of turn 16, with just over 11 minutes to go, Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his car and spun, bringing out a yellow flag. While he was able to get going again, the brief flag impeded a handful of fast laps.

The end of the session wound up with a bit of a traffic jam as drivers backed themselves up to sneak in one final fast lap.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen failed to set a time in this session. He would have been starting from the rear of the grid no matter what due to a penalty, so the team opted against attempting to qualify.

Knocked Out In Q1

16. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
17. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
18. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
19. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
20. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

While the rain had long since ceased, the second session was still damp enough for the intermediate tires. Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton all swapped the top spot on the charts while several other drivers struggled with grip in the damp Turn 2.

Both Nicholas Latifi and Charles Leclerc opted against setting a time during this session and were eliminated.

Knocked Out In Q2

11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
12. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) 
13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
14. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
15. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

During the final qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton entered the pit lane to swap to slick tires before setting a fast lap, but disaster struck: he clipped the wall and damaged his front wing, necessitating a change. It was a bit of a mess, since Valtteri Bottas also had to pit, which meant the Mercedes team had to wheel Hamilton out of the way. The team was able to get him back out on the track, but it did make for a strategic struggle to allow Hamilton to set a fast lap.

Most of the fastest laps were set after the checkered flag flew. Leading into that session, Hamilton led with a provisional pole but Carlos Sainz Jr. of Ferrari took that slot from him, only to be quickly usurped by Lando Norris of McLaren.

Hamilton spun on his final lap, which saw him fail to cross the finish line and take a fourth place starting position.

Norris ultimately took the pole.

Top 10 After Q3

  1. Lando Norris (McLaren)
  2. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Ferrari)
  3. George Russell (Williams)
  4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  5. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
  6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
  7. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  8. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
  9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
  10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

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