Lewis Hamilton surged to his eighth pole of 2020 in a drama-filled qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.
The defending world champion barely scraped himself out of Q2 after the session was red-flagged when Sebastian Vettel crashed heavily into the barriers at Turn 4 with two minutes remaining.
The Brit had had his first flying lap deleted for abusing track limits and was sat in 15th when the session resumed. Squeezing across the line with one second on the clock, the Mercedes pilot set a time good enough for fourth.
Consequently, he was forced to run the softer tyres. At the same time, his teammate Valtteri Bottas was able to qualify on the more durable medium tyres, setting up an exciting split strategy from the two rivals tomorrow.
Despite setting the pace on Friday, Bottas was unable to match Hamilton’s time in the final shootout, being edged out by Max Verstappen who splits the Mercedes pair.
Sergio Perez was the lone Racing Point car in Q3 and will start fourth. His stablemate Lance Stroll will line up 13th after a mechanical gremlin kept him in the pitlane after the Q2 red flag.
Daniel Ricciardo will lead Carlos Sainz on the third row, with teammates Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris directly behind on a mirror image fourth row.
Ferrari suffered another frustrating day at the office. Charles Leclerc missed out on Q3 in 11th while the team are left with a lengthy repair job as Vettel found the barrier at Turn 4.
Kimi Raikkonen is set to equal Rubens Barrichello’s record of 322 Grand Prix starts in tomorrow’s race, but he’ll do so from last on the grid after spinning late in Q1.
His Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi continued his run of Q1 exits in 17th, splitting the two Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.