Valtteri Bottas scored a stunning pole for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton made a slight error on his final lap in qualifying.
Bottas had already set the fastest lap of Q3 with a time of 1:31.387, but Hamilton was behind him on the road and in position to potentially take the pole away.
However, a small error saw Hamilton break loose and run wide in Turn 7 on his final lap. Although minor, the incident was enough to cost him Hamilton the pole, though he will flank Bottas in another front row lockout for Mercedes.
The pole is the sixth of Bottas’ career and comes at the track where he took his maiden F1 victory last year.
Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualified third and fourth, followed by Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen in fifth.
Force India put Esteban Ocon in sixth, while Charles Leclerc again shined with Sauber to qualify seventh, ahead of Ocon’s teammate Sergio Perez, who qualified eighth.
Romain Grosjean ended up ninth, while Marcus Ericsson made it two Saubers in Q3 and qualified tenth.
Q2 saw peculiar strategies as a result of grid penalties and tire rules. Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will both take grid penalties as a result of new power unit elements being installed. The same can be said of the Toro Rossos of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, as well as McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
Verstappen, Ricciardo, and Gasly all advanced to Q2, but opted not to set a time. Regulations dictate that drivers must start the race on the tires used to set their fastest time in Q2, but if no time is set in Q2, they are free to start the race on any tire compound available that weekend.
As such, all three took advantage of that loophole and did not set times in Q2. Similarly, the Renault duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hulkenberg opted for the same strategy. Neither driver is facing a grid penalty, but the aforementioned ones for Verstappen, Ricciardo, and Gasly meant that the Renault drivers would start no worse than 11th and 12th respectively.
As a result, Renault also decided not to run either driver in Q2, also giving them free choice of tire compound to use at the start of Sunday’s race. This opened the door for teams like Sauber to move on to Q3.
Results are below.