Sochi Qualifying: Lando Norris takes his maiden F1 pole

Lando Norris

Though FP3 got cancelled due to heavy rain, the circumstances paved way for a thrilling qualifying session. Lando Norris grabbed his first F1 pole whereas Carlos Sainz Jr. will start on 2nd for the first time in his F1 career. Williams driver, George Russell (P3) once again outqualified his future teammate at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton (P4). Daniel Ricciardo (P5) showed good pace after his win in the previous race at Monza. But unfortunately thunder struck for Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel who after performing well in the practice sessions couldn’t make it into the top 10. This qualifying has a lot to dive deep into

The New Polesitter – Lando Norris

McLaren driver, Lando Norris is performing exceptionally good in this season with four podiums so far and now a pole, not to mention all the times he threw himself in the mix of the top teams and his team work that gained applauds in Monza.

At just 21, the British-Belgian driver ends the drought of getting a pole position since 2012 for McLaren. Also, this makes McLaren the only team to get the pole position at Sochi other than Mercedes and Ferrari.

” It was very tough out there, a lot of risks taken, a lot of times I thought I could’ve ended up in the wall – but it all paid-off and was worth it. Thanks to the whole team for giving me a great car today. It’s an amazing feeling to get pole and something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a kid. So now I can finally tick that off, and hopefully tomorrow we can just go for another strong result.” – Lando Norris

Where did the title rivals qualify?

Max Verstappen, who leads the championship by 5 points from Lewis, did not set a lap time at all. The reason? His car will get new power unit components which will give him grid penalties to an extent that even getting a pole would be useless. It was the most sensible thing to do as setting fast laps on a wet track could prove treacherous.

“We decided not to do too many laps in qualifying as the risk of having a moment or an accident would not be worth it, especially as I’m starting from the back of the grid tomorrow.”, said Max.

On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton who was the fastest in both Q1 and Q2 failed to maintain the top position at the end. The disappointing P4 came after he got into two accidents – damaging his front wing as he made his way into the tight pitlane of Sochi and later spinning off which saw him going into the barriers, thus ruining his flying lap.

“I made a mistake in the pit lane and I’m incredibly disappointed with that. Up until then, I was in the groove, I was in the zone and I am really sorry for all the team that are here and back at the factory because obviously that’s not what you expect from a champion.” – Lewis Hamilton

Frustrations for Gasly and Vettel

Misfortune of Monza followed the AlphaTauri driver, Pierre Gasly (P12) who despite of setting great lap times was out in Q2. The reason was over usage of tyres whereas for the Aston Martin driver, Sebastian Vettel (P11) it was the traffic which ended his hopes of qualifying into Q3.

“In Q1 I was really fast in these conditions, I felt comfortable in the car and could push straight away. However, for Q2 I stayed out on just one set of tyres, that were completely used by the end of the session. I think this was a big mistake from our side, but I will have to speak to the team to understand more about what happened today.” – Pierre Gasly

Vettel said, “I think we had the pace to easily progress to Q3, but I had traffic on my final run [from Yuki Tsunoda] and I just missed out. I am annoyed with myself because I should have put in a better time the lap before as well.”

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