Lando Norris claims an unexpected pole position for the Russian Grand Prix
Lando Norris claimed a scintillating pole position for the Russian Grand Prix
The 21-year-old British driver took advantage of the wet-dry conditions at Sochi’s rain-hit Olympic Park to put his McLaren at the front of the grid ahead of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.
George Russell took a brilliant third with Lewis Hamilton only fourth.
Hamilton appeared on course to cruise to his 101st pole but a late switch to dry rubber dramatically upset the odds with Norris finishing six tenths clear.
Hamilton was unable to get temperature into his slick tyres and spun in the closing stages of his final lap.
Max Verstappen, who holds a five-point championship lead over Hamilton, will start from the back of the grid after taking on his fourth engine – one more than is permitted for the season.
With his penalty in mind, and the risk of damage high given the slippery conditions, Verstappen completed a mandatory single lap before parking his Red Bull.
Norris’ superb lap, which makes him the youngest British pole-sitter in the sport’s history, comes off the back of McLaren’s first victory in nine years at the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
“Oh boy,” said Norris. “It feels amazing. I don’t know what to say. It was a manic session. You never think you are going to get a pole but I have managed to do it.
“It was tough. I am going to make myself sound good. The lap before I was two seconds down and I wasn’t confident I could improve but I kept the tyres warm. I risked quite a bit and it paid off so I am a happy boy.
“It is my first pole position, hopefully the first of many, and I don’t know what to say. It is not something we expected but we took the opportunity.”
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