Russian Grand Prix: Championship chief Sebastian Vettel grabs pole in Sochi

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Lewis Hamilton may have all of it to do to win Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix as he certified solely fourth whereas title rival Sebastian Vettel secured his first pole place in practically two years.

Championship chief Vettel, who heads Hamilton by seven factors within the title race, ended Mercedes’ streak of 18 consecutive poles with a superb ultimate lap following a nail-biting session right here on the Sochi Autodrom.

Vettel heads an all-Ferrari entrance row with Kimi Raikkonen second on the grid and Valtteri Bottas third. Hamilton, mysteriously off-colour for a lot of the weekend right here, was greater than half a second behind Vettel, who celebrated his pole in raucous style over the staff radio.

The final time Vettel began from pole was on the Singapore Grand Prix again in 2015, however his and Ferrari’s tempo in Russia up to now this weekend would seem to level in the direction of a altering of the guard, with Hamilton’s Mercedes staff having dominated the game for the previous three seasons.

Certainly Mercedes have an awesome report in these components having received the entire three grands prix staged right here whereas main each lap. However they, and specifically Hamilton, have struggled for type, with Ferrari now solely cementing their standing as actual challengers for each the drivers’ and constructors’ crown.

Hamilton was practically six tenths of a second behind Vettel, and virtually half-a-second down on Bottas. His sluggish tempo was greeted by crossed arms from Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda within the Mercedes storage, with the latter puffing out his cheeks and shaking his head.

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