Valtteri Bottas picked up his second pole position of the 2018 Formula 1 season after pipping Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to P1 in the final stage of qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday in Sochi. 

At the track where he scored his maiden grand prix victory last year, Bottas managed to edge out Hamilton by one-tenth of a second to score his sixth F1 pole, heading up a front row lock-out for Mercedes in Russia.

Hamilton managed to top both Q1 and Q2, but was slower than Bottas on his first flying lap in Q3 before a mistake at Turn 7 on his final effort meant he had to settle for second place on the grid.

Despite Hamilton’s mistake, Ferrari was unable to capitalise and split the Mercedes drivers as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished half a second off the pace, leaving them third and fourth for the start on Sunday.

The result acts as the latest blow to Vettel’s title hopes, with the German entering the race already 40 points down on Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.

All four of the leading drivers will start the race on the Ultrasoft tyre in Sochi, having made it through Q2 without using the quicker and less durable Hypersofts.

In the battle to lead the midfield, Kevin Magnussen managed to take fifth for Haas, bouncing back from his surprise Q1 elimination in Singapore two weeks ago. The Dane finished two-tenths clear of Force India’s Esteban Ocon, who will start sixth on Sunday.

Charles Leclerc managed to lead Sauber to its best team qualifying result of the year, finishing seventh. Teammate Marcus Ericsson reached Q3 for the first time in over three years, ending the day P10, with the Saubers split by Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean in eighth and ninth respectively.

Red Bull opted not to run either Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo in Q2 as a result of their grid penalties following power unit changes earlier in the week, leaving the pair 13th and 14th in the classification. Toro Rosso made the same decision for Pierre Gasly, who also took a penalty on Friday, with all three set to drop to the rear of the grid on Sunday.

Due to the penalties in play, the slowest cars in Q2 were guaranteed 11th and 12th on the grid as well as a free tyre choice. Preferring the tyre advantage over a better starting position, Renault decided not to send out either Carlos Sainz Jr. or Nico Hulkenberg in Q2, resulting in a strange situation where any driver who did post a lap time was guaranteed a place in the top 10. 

Brendon Hartley was outqualified by Toro Rosso teammate Gasly for the ninth weekend in a row, lapping seven-tenths of a second slower than the Frenchman as he dropped out in Q1, finishing 16th.

After impressing in Singapore by leading the midfield battle for McLaren, Fernando Alonso was brought back down to earth in Sochi on Saturday as he qualified 17th, finishing nine-tenths off a Q2 berth.

Alonso did however maintain his 100 percent record of outqualifying teammate Stoffel Vandoorne this season, who finished down in 19th. By the time Vandoorne gets to the next race in Japan, it will have been more than a year since he last beat his teammate in qualifying.

Home favourite Sergey Sirotkin qualified 18th for Williams despite a spin on his final flying lap, while teammate Lance Stroll was slowest of all down in P20. Both will gain positions on the grid as a result of penalties for others, though.

The Russian Grand Prix gets underway at 12:10 BST on Sunday.