Lewis Hamilton says he had “one of the worst” qualifying sessions of his Formula 1 career during a “horrible” session for the Russian Grand Prix, despite claiming pole position.

Hamilton came within a second of getting knocked out in Q2 after the session was stopped when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed, forcing Hamilton to abort his lap while sitting in the drop zone.

The Briton collected himself and crossed the line with only a second to spare before sneaking into the top-10 shootout with a last-gasp effort.

Hamilton went on to storm to the 96th pole position of his career, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by over half a second and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

“The session was hard,” Hamilton said. “It was one of the worst qualifying sessions, it was horrible.

“I had my heart in my mouth the whole way. I had the time taken away obviously, which is the first time I’ve gone wide there the whole weekend.

“I wanted to stay out and do another lap just to get the banker but they said come in for a new set of tyres and then the red flag came out. That was the real risk at the end.”

The Q2 drama means Hamilton will start on the Soft tyre, while Verstappen and Bottas will both begin the race on Mediums, potentially handing them a strategic advantage.

“Ultimately I’m starting on the Soft tyre, which is not good,” Hamilton explained.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole. We have draggier cars this year, so I am most likely to get dragged past here tomorrow.

“And both the cars I’m racing against are on the Mediums tomorrow, so definitely will make it hard to win this race.”

Hamilton is under investigation for potentially infringing a track limits rule when he returned to the track after running wide at Turn 2. 

But the world championship leader said he had “no idea” why he was being summoned to see the stewards.

“I have no idea what that is,” he added. “But there’s always going to be something isn’t there?”

 

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