Lewis Hamilton claimed the 96th pole position of his Formula 1 career during a dramatic, red-flagged qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.

The world championship leader posted a time 0.563s faster than Max Verstappen, who was able to split the Mercedes drivers with a fantastic effort to put his Red Bull on the front-row of the grid at Sochi.

However, Hamilton is under investigation for a possible infringement during the qualifying session.

Hamilton has been summoned to the stewards for failing to return to the track properly after running wide at Turn 2 in the first part of qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas could only take third, some 0.652s down on Mercedes teammate Hamilton, after a scruffy pair of runs in Q3.

It was a remarkable recovery from Hamilton, who was nearly knocked out of qualifying altogether in Q2 when Sebastian Vettel’s hefty crash halted the session before he had been able to set a laptime to get into the final segment of the session.

Hamilton had already had a lap time deleted for abusing track limits and then had to abort a run following Vettel’s incident, but he scraped through into Q3 after just crossing the line in time to complete a final lap that was good enough to progress into the pole shoot-out.

The late Q2 drama meant that Hamilton and Bottas will start the race on different tyres, with Hamilton on Softs and Bottas on Mediums. Verstappen will also potentially have a strategic advantage for the race, with the Red Bull driver also starting on Mediums.

Sergio Perez was a brilliant fourth for Racing Point, with Daniel Ricciardo also impressing to claim fifth on the grid for Renault, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and the second Renault of Esteban Ocon.

Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon completed the rest of the top 10 for McLaren, AlphaTauri and Red Bull respectively.

Charles Leclerc missed out on a spot in Q3 by just 0.043s as he evaded teammate Vettel’s stricken Ferrari on his way to setting the 11th fastest time, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.

Lance Stroll was unable to make it two Racing Points in the top 10 after overheating issues with his RP20 while waiting at the end of the pitlane prevented him from completing a second timed-lap.

George Russell qualified 14th having made it through to Q2 for the sixth time this season, ahead of Vettel, who caused the red flag when he crashed on the exit of Turn 4.

Romain Grosjean will line-up 16th on the grid, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo and Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Nicholas Latifi was a full second down on his Williams teammate Russell as he failed to progress and join the Briton in Q2 with a time only good enough for 19th.

Kimi Raikkonen will start Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix last after a spin at Turn 2 on his final run prevented the Alfa Romeo driver from improving and left him anchored to the bottom of the timesheets.




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