Hamilton Wins inaugural Russian Pole

SOCHI, Russia- Even when facing a brand new track that nobody really was familiar with, Lewis Hamilton kept his attempt for his second world driving championship alive by just edging out teammate Nico Rosberg by .02 seconds to take the pole for Sunday’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix. Valterri Bottas finished in third, but nearly took the top position only to lose the rear of the car in the final corner of his flying lap.

“It’s an amazing feeling to come to this beautiful place and to race on this track. It’s fun to drive.” Said Hamilton, talking to ESPN F1’s Laurence Edmondson. “Today, the laps in practice felt more special. In qualifying it seemed a bit harder to get that special lap but I’m grateful that I was able to improve. I crossed the line and I was just hoping I got it; when they tell you, it’s the biggest relief – a great feeling.”

Pastor Maldonado was the first major casualty to be eliminated from the first session in his Lotus. Marussia in this week, only had one driver, this being Max Chilton. The other driver was absent in respect for current driver Jules Bianchi, who suffered a serious head injury last week in Japan. Chilton failed to advance along with the two Caterhams. But the big surprise was Felipe Massa, who normally would have it easy in the first session, but was hampered by fuel pressure problems that made the Brazilian lose power in his Williams.

The normal second round elimination crew of Adrian Sutil and Estaban Gutierrez of Sauber and Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus along with Nico Hulkeneberg, are the regular drivers that only get this far, but Sebastian Vettel joined the group and struggled all week just missing the final cut in qualifying, placing his Red Bull in 11th.

In the final session, behind the top three was a convincing Jenson Button in fourth, while home hero and next year’s Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat has his best result in qualifying, placing in fifth. Kevin Magnussen placed the other McLaren in sixth, while Daniel Riccardo was the top Red Bull Racing driver in seventh. The two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were eighth and ninth respectively. Jean –Eric Vergne, still looking for a new drive next season, rounded out the top ten.

Hoping things will go right tomorrow, Hamilton quite likes the track, but knows like everything else as he told Edmondson, it will be a challenge.
“The corners are mostly medium and high speed where you need a lot of downforce, so tomorrow should be a challenge.” He said. “It’s a long run down to Turn One and we need to be mindful there are opportunities to overtake here. It was great to see such a strong turnout for the first Saturday of running at this new track. Hopefully we can give them a good show tomorrow.”

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