Norris beats Sainz to Russian GP pole, Hamilton crashes twice - The Race
Formula 1

Norris beats Sainz to Russian GP pole, Hamilton crashes twice

Sep 25 2021
By Matt Beer

Lando Norris took a sensational first Formula 1 pole at the Russian Grand Prix ahead of Carlos Sainz and George Russell, as Lewis Hamilton wrecked his pole shot with a pitlane crash.

After so much expectation of a rained-off session and a postponement to Sunday, plus most of the rest of Saturday’s timetable – including final practice – being wiped out, the weather actually improved in the lead-up to qualifying and it began on time.

Other than an exploratory effort on wets by Fernando Alonso, everyone went straight to intermediate tyres and the track improved throughout.

Championship leader Max Verstappen did a pair of installation laps then sat out the session, knowing he was guaranteed a tail-end start because of his power unit component changes regardless of where he qualified.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi were in the same position, but got as far as Q2 before bailing out.

By Q3, the track was dry enough for slicks to be considered, with Russell first to make the swap.

While he struggled to find pace on them initially, the rest of the Q3 runners still followed suit, with the Mercedes last to come in.

But Hamilton – then on provisional pole with his intermediate-tyre lap – slid into the wall in the right-hander in the pitlane entry and damaged his Mercedes’ front wing.

As well as slowing his pitstop for slicks while repairs were carried out, the incident also delayed his team-mate Valtteri Bottas as he initially had to queue behind Hamilton’s car.

That left the Mercedes with no time to get their slicks up to temperature, and Hamilton and Bottas could only qualify fourth and seventh respectively – Hamilton also spinning and touching the barrier on his slick lap.

As the chequered flag flew, it still looked uncertain whether slicks would actually be fastest enough to usurp the intermediate runs order of Hamilton leading Norris and Bottas.

But then the purple sector times started to flash up from first Lance Stroll, then Sainz and then Norris.

Sainz surged onto provisional pole for Ferrari, only for Norris to depose him by half a second. Russell then slotted his Williams into third.

Daniel Ricciardo followed up his Monza win with fifth on the grid in the other McLaren, but he does face an investigation for allegedly impeding Stroll.

Fernando Alonso was third in Q2 and sixth in Q3, ahead of Bottas, Stroll, Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and the other Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

The already-known penalties aside, there were few surprises from the first two segments. The Alfa Romeos of returnee Kimi Raikkonen and spinner Antonio Giovinazzi exited from Q1 in 16th and 18th, sandwiching Mick Schumcaher – who was a mammoth 3.9s faster than Haas team-mate Nikita Mazepin.

Sebastian Vettel missed out on getting both Aston Martins into the top 10 by 0.052s, and shares row six with Pierre Gasly – who was spectacularly livid to end up only 12th.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m47.238s 1m45.827s 1m41.993s
2 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1m47.924s 1m46.521s 1m42.51s
3 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m48.303s 1m46.435s 1m42.983s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m45.992s 1m45.129s 1m44.05s
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m48.345s 1m46.361s 1m44.156s
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m47.877s 1m45.514s 1m44.204s
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m46.396s 1m45.306s 1m44.71s
8 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m48.322s 1m46.36s 1m44.956s
9 Sergio Pérez Red Bull-Honda 1m46.455s 1m45.834s 1m45.337s
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m48.099s 1m46.07s 1m45.865s
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m47.205s 1m46.573s
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m47.828s 1m46.641s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1m48.854s 1m46.751s
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m48.252s
15 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m48.47s
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m49.586s
17 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1m49.83s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m51.023s
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1m53.764s
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda

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