McLaren’s Lando Norris snatched a maiden Formula One pole position for 2021 Russian GP after prevailing in a wet Qualifying thriller in Sochi, Russia.
Torrential rainfall saw FP3 cancelled just 15 minutes before its start time in turn meaning that all drivers entered Qualifying with no experience of a wet circuit at Sochi Autodrom.
Majority of Qualifying was ran on the intermediate tyres but a late Q3 gamble for slicks saw Norris deliver a last-gasp lap to seal pole position ahead of his ex McLaren teammate – Carlos Sainz, as Williams George Russell completed the top three.
Now here is a full roundup of Saturday’s F1 action in Sochi starting with a scrapped FP3.
FP3 was cancelled due to torrential rainfall which prevented the medical helicopter from flying due to poor visibility, whilst surface flooding meant that there was a huge risk of aquaplaning to justify even running the session.
F1 Race Director, Michael Masi officially confirmed the cancellation by submitting a formal request referencing Article 15.3a of F1 Sporting Regulations and Articles 11.9.3.m and 11.9.3.o of FIA International Sporting Code, which legally cancelled FP3 through ‘Force Majeure’ in pure ‘interest of safety’.
Qualifying begun in damp conditions as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda led the field out on intermediate tyres, although Alpine’s Fernando Alonso initially ventured out on wet tyres for his opening run.
Max Verstappen became the first casualty of the Q1 after he pitted following two laps and took no further part in the session, as several drivers bided their time with consecutive fliers before eventually making their move in the closing minutes.
Come the checkered flag, Kimi Raikkonen qualified in 16th ahead of Mick Schumacher and his Alfa Romeo teammate – Antonio Giovinazzi who spun early in the session at Turn 16 and narrowly avoided contact with Charles Leclerc.
Nikita Mazepin qualified 19th ahead of Verstappen who will start from the back of the grid due to taking a fourth power unit, which exceeds his limit of three power units for this season.
Gasly again was the first driver on track and set an initial benchmark of 1m 46.671 but his time was quickly dismantled by Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, as Bottas aborted his first flier before going top with his next lap as he posted 1m 45.506 to go top.
Charles Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi meanwhile opted to not post any lap times due to power unit changes, which meant that only three drivers would be eliminated at the end of this session as Hamilton topped Q2 with 1m 45.129.
At the checkered flag, Tsunoda qualified 13th despite finishing 0.110s behind Gasly who was knocked out in 12th, just 0.068s behind Sebastian Vettel who was eliminated in 11th by 0.052s behind Sainz who scraped through in tenth.
With the track now drying rapidly after predicted showers failed to materialise, almost everyone set their opening times on intermediate tyres as Hamilton put himself on provisional pole with 1m 44.050 ahead of Norris and Bottas.
Russell though aborted his intermediate tyre run for soft slick tyres with several drivers quickly following suit which proved costly for Hamilton, as he struck the pit wall as he entered the pits which broke his front wing and necessitated a front wing change after being held back to allow Bottas to get his tyres changed first.
Once Hamilton re-joined the circuit, he and everyone else found themselves in an one-lap shootout for pole at the death, which ultimately was snatched by Norris with 1m 41.993 ahead of his ex teammate – Sainz by 0.517s which handed McLaren their first pole since Hamilton at 2012 Brazilian GP.
Russell’s early gamble to pit first paid off as he qualified third ahead of Hamilton who spun on his last-gasp flier.
Italian Grand Prix winner, Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth ahead of Alonso, Bottas, Lance Stroll, Perez and Esteban Ocon.
|1||Lando Norris||McLaren||1m 41.993|
|2||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.517|
|3||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.990|
|4||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 2.057|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 2.163|
|6||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 2.211|
|7||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 2.717|
|8||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 2.963|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 3.344|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 3.872|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1m 46.573|
|12||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.068|
|13||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.178|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||No Time Set|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||No Time Set|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1m 49.586|
|17||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.244|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.437|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 4.178|
|20||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||No Time Set|