Formula 1

Russian GP: Leclerc storms to fourth straight pole

Russian GP: Leclerc storms to fourth straight pole

Charles Leclerc claimed his and Ferrari's fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.

Leclerc set two laps fast enough for pole during Q2 and had an advantage of 0.402s over Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who split the two Ferraris with his final lap.

Once again, the Ferraris showed prodigious pace on the straights, with Leclerc outpacing Hamilton by almost half a second in the first sector of the lap.

Sebastian Vettel had second place after the first runs in Q3, but only found 0.082s on a messy second lap and had to settle for third, just 0.023s slower than Hamilton.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen looked a potential pole position threat early in qualifying but ended up fourth fastest and just over three tenths ahead of fifth fastest Valtteri Bottas.

But Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty thanks to taking a new Honda V6 at the start of the weekend, meaning he's currently set to start ninth.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz won the midfield battle in sixth place, just 0.067s quicker than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

Lando Norris was eighth in the second McLaren ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who struggled through the first part of qualifying but delivered a superb lap at the end of Q2 to make it into the top 10 shootout.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo was 10th and last of those in Q3, 2.033s off the pace.

Of the top 10, both Mercedes drivers will start on medium Pirellis having used that tyre to set their Q2 time – with the rest locked in to starting on softs.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was 11th fastest, although he will not start there as he has a five-place grid penalty because of an engine change at the start of the race weekend.

This means Racing Point's Sergio Perez moves up to that position after failing to improve on his second set of tyres in Q2.

Antonio Giovinazzi was 13th fastest in an Alfa Romeo that hasn't looked a top-10 threat all weekend, putting him ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen did not improve on his second run in Q2 after running wide at the Turn 15 left-hander and ended up 14th.

Racing Point's Lance Stroll made a similar mistake at the same corner and also did not improve, leaving him almost half-a-tenth behind Magnussen in 15th.

Kimi Raikkonen was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in 16th place after failing to improve on his second run.

He ran wide at Turn 10 on his final lap, then the rear stepped out on him in the middle of the last corner and allowed Alfa Romeo teammate Giovinazzi to bump him by less than a tenth.

Williams driver George Russell was 17th fastest, six tenths off the pace needed for Q2, and had an advantage of 1.2s over Williams teammate Robert Kubica.

Kubica, who has a back-of-the-grid penalty thanks to taking a new Mercedes engine package, slid off the track at Turn 15 on his second push lap on his first set of tyres but improved on his second run.

Alex Albon, who carried a five-place grid penalty into qualifying for an engine change, was 19th and eliminated in Q1 after spinning into the wall on his first run at Turn 13 right-hander.

The Red Bull driver carried too much speed into the corner after briefly locking the rears at the start of the braking phase.

The rear came round before the apex, backing the car into the Tecpro barrier and bringing out the red flag with just over six-and-a-half minutes remaining in Q1.

Daniil Kvyat did not participate in qualifying after stopping on track with an engine problem during FP3.

The team opted to change the V6 engine, turbocharger, MGU-K and MGU-H, but could not complete the job in time to run in Q1.

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari 1'31.628
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 1'32.030 0.402
3 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari 1'32.053 0.425
4 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 1'32.632 1.004
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren 1'33.222 1.594
6 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault 1'33.289 1.661
7 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 1'33.301 1.673
8 France Romain Grosjean
Haas 1'33.517 1.889
9 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull 1'32.310 0.682
10 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault 1'33.661 2.033
11 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point 1'33.958 2.330
12 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 1'34.037 2.409
13 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas 1'34.082 2.454
14 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point 1'34.233 2.605
15 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo 1'34.840 3.212
16 France Pierre Gasly
Toro Rosso 1'33.950 2.322
17 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams 1'35.356 3.728
18 Thailand Alex Albon
Red Bull 1'39.197 7.569
19 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams 1'36.474 4.846
20 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Russian GP
Author Edd Straw