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Norris claims maiden F1 pole after Hamilton hits pit wall
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Norris claims maiden F1 pole after Hamilton hits pit wall

Norris claims maiden F1 pole after Hamilton hits pit wall

Norris claims maiden F1 pole after Hamilton hits pit wall

Norris claims maiden F1 pole after Hamilton hits pit wall

McLaren's Lando Norris claimed a stunning pole position for the Russian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton hit the pit wall in an astonishing qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom.

For once, the weather gods smiled on F1 because after thunderstorms and torrential rain throughout the morning and early afternoon, a break finally appeared 40 minutes before the scheduled start time of 3pm local [1pm BST].

It meant that the intermediate tyres were required throughout Q1 and Q2, and for the first run in Q3 before slicks were then called for, albeit with damp patches still on the track.

But in drying conditions, Norris timed his run to perfection to knock Ferrari's Carlos Sainz off top spot, with Williams' George Russell the last to cross the line and claim the third quickest time.

As for Mercedes driver Hamilton, coming into the pits to switch to slicks, the seven-time F1 champion hit the wall, snapping his front wing.

The delay meant both he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who had followed soon after for his own tyre change, were hampered and were only able to set one timed lap on the soft tyres, compared to the all-important two for Norris, Sainz and Russell.

Hamilton had at least set a solid banker lap on the intermediates that allowed him to claim fourth place on the grid, although he will fancy his chances of going on to win his 100th grand prix given the trio ahead of him.

Norris ultimately finished half-a-second quicker than Sainz with a lap of one minute 41.993s, with Russell a second back on his fellow Briton, and Hamilton two seconds down, underlining the difference in the end between the slicks and inters.

The feat comes a fortnight after Daniel Ricciardo spearheaded a McLaren one-two in the Italian Grand Prix, giving the team its first win for nine years.

As for championship leader Max Verstappen, with a back-of-the-grid penalty hanging over him for a power unit change, the Red Bull driver only completed an out-lap and an in-lap in Q1 before stepping out of the car with no time to his name.

Ricciardo will start fifth, although is under investigation for impeding Aston Martin's Lance Stroll late in Q1.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso lines up sixth ahead of Bottas and Stroll, followed by Red Bull's Sergio Perez and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

Russell had produced a late flier in Q2 that was enough to knock Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel out of the top-10 shoot-out, leaving the four-time champion to line up 11th ahead of AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.

In Q2, neither Williams' Nicholas Latifi nor Charles Leclerc set a time courtesy of PU penalties.

Just as the sessions started, the FIA confirmed a new engine, MGU-H and traction control on Latifi's FW43B, meaning the Canadian will start 18th ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen.

Unlike Verstappen's cameo appearance in Q1, Latifi and Leclerc both took full part in the 18-minute session, although the latter nearly disastrously so as he narrowly avoided a spinning Antonio Giovinazzi in his Alfa Romeo.

Exiting Q1, along with Verstappen, were Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, followed by Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, with Giovinazzi sandwiched in between the Haas duo.

Raikkonen, Schumacher, Giovinazzi and Mazepin will all move up positions due to the Latifi and Leclerc penalties, with the quartet starting 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th respectively.

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