An incredible qualifying session this afternoon at the Sochi Autodrom saw Lando Norris claim his first Formula 1 Pole Position, with Carlos Sainz and George Russell following behind. While a complicated race day awaits both Red Bulls tomorrow. Max Verstappen will be starting the Russian GP from the very back of the grid, behind Charles Leclerc, following a Power Unit substitution. The Dutchman went out on track in Q1 to complete only two laps with no time posted before heading back into the garage. Meanwhile his teammate Sergio Perez was doing well despite the tricky track conditions. He started off the qualifying session with a P3 in Q1, just behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedeses and then progressed through Q2 positioning himself behind Lando Norris’ McLaren in 5th place.
“Things were looking really promising and we had a strong Q1 and Q2,” he said.
“But in the changing weather and track conditions, timing is important and in hindsight we probably could have tried slick tyres one lap earlier.”
In Q3 with the track getting dryer and dryer, drivers switched inters for slicks. The new tyres didn’t result in a significant lap time improvement for Checo, who had a single flying lap attempt and ended the session in P9. With both driver and constructor’s championships open, Perez and Verstappen will be on the hunt for a comeback, to try and not let Mercedes create too big a gap. Mercedes encountered some struggles themselves, with Hamilton starting behind George Russell’s Williams and Valtteri Bottas back in P7.
“As we know anything can happen in the race and a positive to take from today is that the car was performing very well in the wet. We are going to move positively into Sunday and the main target will be to get a strong start and then put together the best possible race.”