Lewis sneaks into Q3, still gets pole, Formula One News & Top Stories

Alonzo Simpson
September 27, 2020

Bottas was back on top at the start of qualifying, when two deleted lap times for Hamilton resulted in Bottas commanding Q1 by three tenths of a second.

While he may be starting first for the 96th time in his F1 career - apparently the flawless position to launch his bid to level Schumacher by converting pole into his 91st grand prix victory - Hamilton is feeling vulnerable and faces two problems that see the odds stacked against him.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen seized second place on the starting grid for the race in Sochi, with Hamilton's team mate and closest title rival Valtteri Bottas having to settle for third.

"It's not a good place to start at all", he said. However, Vertappen and Bottas will start on the more durable mediums.

The session was red-flagged with just two minutes and 15 seconds of Q2 remaining.

The Italian manufacturer also suggests - if tyre wear is less than expected - running the softs until lap 14 and going to the Mediums - which is suggested to be just as fast. So Pirelli expects that the softest tyre will be the fastest tyre for the race and that the medium will be a slower alternative.

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After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap and ran off the track before making it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

"I generally expect one of these two to come flying by at some point". Providing he has a strong launch, he could negate the tow he will be providing the chasing pack behind and retain his position. According to many, the softs are not the best band for the race, but Pirelli really thinks differently.

"The cars behind me are starting on the medium [tyres] and that is definitely the better tyre". So that's going to be a struggle.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has already stated that Hamilton faces a tough ask to secure what would be a record-equalling 91st career victory.

"These guys, if they get by, they're going to be pulling away so I'm going to sit down tonight to try to figure out if there's a different kind of race I can do tomorrow to keep my position". Russian Grand Prix, Saturday 26th September 2020.

The race directors' notes had stated: "Each time any auto fails to negotiate Turn 2 by using the track, and who passes to the left of, or has any part of the vehicle over the first orange kerb element prior to the apex, or to the left of the orange apex sausage at Turn 2, must then re-join the track by driving around the array of blocks as indicated by the arrows before the rejoining the track at Turn 3".

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