Hamilton takes pole with Schumi’s record in sight
>>SOCHI: Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton took pole for today’s Russian Grand Prix but the Mercedes six-time winner was made to work for it in yesterday’s qualifying session disrupted by Sebastian Vettel shunting his Ferrari.
Vettel’s accident came with over two minutes of the second session remaining with Hamilton languishing in 15th place and in danger of missing out on the top 10 shoot-out.
But the Mercedes champion kept his cool, progressed to Q1 after setting the fourth quickest time, then turned on the power to take his eighth pole in 10 races as he is bidding for a record-equalling 91st victory.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen seized second place on the starting grid for the race in Sochi, with Hamilton’s teammate and closest title rival Valtteri Bottas having to settle for third.
Hamilton will equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time win record if he takes his seventh win of the season today.
Vettel climbed out unhurt from his Ferrari after crashing heavily.
Replays showed that the German driver, in his final season with Ferrari, clipped a kerb at Turn Four and lost control as he smacked into the barriers.
Morbidelli shines again
Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli claimed his maiden MotoGP pole position at the Catalunya Grand Prix yesterday, edging out teammate Fabio Quartararo in Barcelona.
Italian rider Morbidelli powered through the final sector at Circuit de Catalunya to deliver a scorching lap of one minute 38.798 seconds.
Early pace-setter Quartararo went for one final attempt as the chequered flag came out but was unable to improve on his second-place finish.
Italian great Valentino Rossi, who committed his future to Petronas Yamaha for the 2021 season earlier yesterday, finished third on his factory Yamaha bike to secure a front row position for the first time this season.
Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso’s difficult run in qualifying sessions this season continued as the Ducati rider failed to qualify for Q2. He will start today’s race 17th on the grid.
Rossi has signed a one-year contract extension with Yamaha which will see him move to the manufacturer’s satellite team for the 2021 season.
He holds records for MotoGP and 500cc wins (89) but he hasn’t won an elite class race for three years.