SOCHI, Russia – Rainy conditions didn’t dampen the high spirits of Lando Norris and McLaren Saturday during Russian Grand Prix qualifying.
Norris outlasted a wet circuit, Carlos Sainz and George Russell to claim his first Formula 1 pole position for Sunday’s big event at the Sochi Autodrom. The accomplishment comes two weeks after the team registered its first one-two finish in over two decades at the Italian Grand Prix.
Norris set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 41.993 seconds, a lap that came right after the team switched to slick tires late in the final round.
Sainz and Russell comprised the top three, falling .517 and .990 seconds shy, respectively.
“It feels amazing. I don’t know what to say,” Norris said. “Quite a demanding session but it was going well and obviously we made the decision to switch to slicks and, I don’t know, you never think you’re going to get a pole until you get it and now I’ve managed to do it.”
Lewis Hamilton captured the first two rounds but settled for fourth when a pit road incident that required a front wing change and a spin late in the final session stunted his momentum.
Hamilton chases his 100th career victory Sunday at Sochi Autodrom, a place he’s won four times and venue Mercedes is seven-for-seven at.
Daniel Ricciardo, fresh off a big victory at the Italian Grand Prix, represented McLaren in fifth.
Fernando Alonso, Valterri Bottas, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top 10.
Championship leader Max Verstappen will have to start 20th because of an engine change.
Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Valterri Bottas, Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Nicholas Latifi, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nikita Mazepin, Max Verstappen