This isn’t a story we’ve heard very often this year: Mercedes F1 driver Valtteri Bottas has secured pole position to start the 2018 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Sochi is a track full of good memories for the Finnish driver. It was there that he took his first ever F1 win last year. Now, he’s been able to nail pole by a mere tenth of a second, the Mercedes driver many of us wouldn’t have put our money on. Hamilton had been slower than his teammate during every outing on Q3, and a mistake in Turn 7 on his final flying lap cost him pole.
That mistake wasn’t enough for their Ferrari rivals to capitalize on, though. The Italian team has been struggling all weekend to find the pace. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will line up third and fourth, respectively, which can’t be great for Vettel’s morale. He’s already 40 points behind Hamilton in the championship—this just makes it all the harder to catch up.
Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen both have grid penalties to start off this race due to power unit changes. Knowing that they weren’t going to get a great starting position, the team opted not to send either driver out during Q2 to preserve the cars and tires. They’ll start from the back of the grid tomorrow.