Lewis Hamilton scored his 96th pole position in Formula One – his eighth of the 2020 F1 season and second at the Russian GP. Valtteri Bottas qualified in third place and will start tomorrow’s race from the second row of the grid. The 1:31.304 set by Lewis in Q3 is a new lap record at the Sochi Autodrom. Lewis will start the 2020 Russian Grand Prix on the Soft tyre, with Valtteri starting on the Medium compound.
That was one of the toughest Qualifying sessions I can remember, proper heart in your mouth the whole way. But I feel super grateful for everyone keeping their cool as it could have been a lot, lot worse. Q2 was hugely challenging, my first attempt was taken away for going over the track limits at the final corner. The team brought me in for refuelling and to fit new tyres but when I was on my second lap, the red flag came out. After that, it was very close to still get that final lap in – I overtook a few cars in the last sector but then lost time behind a Renault. I just heard Bono say ‘go, go, go’, so I was gunning it to get across the line. There was so much going on and I had to just calm down and find my centre. Valtteri had been strong all weekend, so I had no choice but to deliver with those final Q3 laps. The first lap in the final session was really great, and I thought it would be difficult to improve, but I managed to find a tiny bit on the second lap. It’s nice to take pole position, but this track is probably the worst place to be on pole, due to the long run to the first braking zone. So, I’m expecting a tough fight down to Turn 2 and a challenging race, especially as I’m starting on the Soft tyre, which is a good compound for the race start but is the worst tyre for the opening stint. We’ll sit down tonight and figure out the best approach to the race.
It was looking pretty good for me, I felt like I had the pace through Q1 and Q2, and both of those sessions went nice and smoothly. But Q3 was a tricky one. I felt like I found some gains but clearly the others found more. On the first run in Q3 the tyres were a bit too cold, so out of the last corner I had a big snap and was already a few tenths down on the run to Turn 2. I was waiting for the second run and that lap felt better, there weren’t really any mistakes so I’m not sure why I couldn’t get closer to pole. There are some question marks there, which we’ll need to look into in the debrief and figure out why there was such a gap. But P3 is actually a pretty good place to start here and I think I’m on the right tyre as well. I’ve started third here before and look what happened, so I’ll try and do the same. It’s still all to play for.
Sometimes, it’s the tracks where we perform well in practice, that prove to be the most difficult in Qualifying and the race. That happened today, with a very challenging Qualifying session. We had a very strong car, but almost stumbled over a red flag. I think we had the racing gods on our side, that we were able to make it into Q3. It’s always impressive how Lewis manages to put it all together, even if adversity is being thrown at him. He did a fantastic job to secure pole position. On Valtteri’s side, we need to investigate what happened, because he had a very strong Friday, but FP3 went against him. The changes he’d made to the car for Qualifying seemed to be right, but then he lost some performance in Q3. The gap doesn’t do him justice, so we need to look into what happened. But we’re looking forward to an exciting race, with both drivers starting on different tyre compounds and a long run to Turn 2. Let’s see how it all plays out.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1