F1 Russian Grand Prix qualifying: Lewis Hamilton claims seventh pole but admits it wasn't all smooth sailing

Hamilton beat his team-mate and nearest rival Nico Rosberg

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Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh pole position of the year for Sunday’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom.

With five minutes of the final qualifying session left to run yesterday, his lap of 1min 38.647sec undercut team-mate Nico Rosberg’s 1min 38.946sec, and the German failed to redress the balance. On the second run Hamilton improved again, to 1min 38.513sec, maintaining the momentum that has propelled him to victory in the last three races.

“Every race is important at the moment,” Rosberg said. “We have four to go, all equally important. Yeah, today Lewis was quicker – all weekend really. ”

Hamilton said: “This is a beautiful place and I’m really enjoying driving this track, although it wasn’t the easiest session.”


Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was the danger man in qualifying and might have dislodged one of the silver cars from the front row but for pushing too hard exiting the final corner and running wide after setting the best times in the previous two sectors.

“I didn’t know that it was close to the pole,” the Finn said. “I took maybe a bit too much out of the tyres in the beginning of the lap and the last sector became more tricky .”

Inevitably, the weekend has been overshadowed by the accident that befell Marussia’s Jules Bianchi in Suzuka, and his team have entered only one car. All of the drivers will race bearing #ForzaJules or tous avec Jules (all with Jules) logos.

The crowd will be cheering Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, and the Russian rookie who will replace Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next year took his highest grid place with fifth.