Conditions dramatically improved as qualifying went on and the track dried out, leading to a late stampede to switch from intermediate tyres to slicks in a dramatic conclusion to Q3 at Sochi.

The conditions enabled McLaren’s Norris to take a shock first-ever pole in F1 as he took advantage of the crossover from wet to dry to pump in a 1m41.993s to snatch the fastest lap of qualifying.

Norris outpaced Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Williams driver George Russell, both of whom starred in the changeable conditions, while championship contender Hamilton made an uncharacteristic error that left him only fourth.

During the rush to switch onto slicks, Hamilton hit the wall when entering the pitlane, a mistake which cost him vital time as Mercedes was forced to change his front-wing.

That meant Hamilton missed out on crucial preparation laps and only had one flying lap on slicks before the session ended. On his final lap, the seven-time world champion spun and failed to improve.

Hamilton had been on course to take pole in the wet and his lap time that was good enough for provisional pole during the first runs of Q3 meant he was able to take fourth.

But Hamilton and Mercedes will be left feeling they missed an open goal to capitalise on championship leader Max Verstappen, who is starting from the back of the grid after taking an engine penalty.

Hamilton’s intermediate time was good enough to outpace Italian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo’s soft-shod effort as he put his McLaren fifth, ahead of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

Valtteri Bottas was hampered by a slow pit stop to change onto slicks due to Hamilton’s issue and the Finn was unable to improve on his sole flying lap on Pirelli’s fastest tyre, leaving him seventh.

Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the rest of the top 10 for Aston Martin, Red Bull and Alpine respectively.

Sebastian Vettel was left frustrated as he narrowly missed out on a spot in Q3 in 11th, while it was a disappointing qualifying for AlphaTauri.

Pierre Gasly failed to replicate his promising practice pace in the wet and could only take 12th.

It marked just the third time this season the Frenchman has not made it into the top-10 shootout in qualifying. Yuki Tsunoda got within a tenth of his teammate’s effort on his way to 13th.

After making it into Q2 for the fourth time this season, Nicholas Latifi elected to sit out Q2 after it was confirmed the Williams driver has taken on a new power unit.

As a result, the Canadian will join Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc - who also did not take part in Q2 - and Verstappen at the back of the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

On his return to F1 action after missing the previous two races with COVID-19, Kimi Raikkonen failed to progress from Q1 as he finished 16th.

Haas rookie Mick Schumacher produced a strong lap to outqualify Antonio Giovinazzi, who spun in his Alfa Romeo on his way to managing just the 18th-quickest time.

Home favourite Nikita Mazepin was the slowest of the 19 drivers who set times, over seven seconds off the headline pace in Q1.

Full qualifying results for the 2021 F1 Russian Grand Prix.