Norris takes the first pole of his F1 career, Sainz records his first front row start and Russell reaches Q3 for the fourth time in seven races. Here are the facts and statistics from qualifying at the 2021 Russian Grand Prix.
NORRIS TAKES HIS MAIDEN POLE
Lando Norris recorded the first pole position of his Formula 1 career at the Russian Grand Prix. Norris becomes the 102nd different driver to take pole position in World Championship history and the eighteenth British driver to do so.
Norris is the sixth different driver to take pole position at the Russian Grand Prix and McLaren become the third different team to take pole at Sochi Autodrom.
This was McLaren’s first pole position since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, 172 races ago. That’s the fifth longest gap between poles for a team in Formula 1. McLaren’s gap is exceeded by only Mercedes, Honda, Alfa Romeo and Renault.
This was the first time that a McLaren driver has qualified in the top four at the Russian Grand Prix.
McLaren recorded their 156th pole position. Since McLaren’s last pole at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, Mercedes have taken 121 poles.
THE TOP TEN
Carlos Sainz set the second-fastest time in qualifying and records the first front row start of his Formula 1 career. He has previously lined up in the top three on the grid twice – at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix and the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.
For the fourth time in the last seven races, George Russell reached Q3. Russell records his third best qualifying result, having previously qualified on the front row with Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix and with Williams at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.
The top three on the 2021 Russian Grand Prix grid comprises of a McLaren, a Ferrari and a Williams. The last time those three teams set the three fastest times in qualifying was at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix – but Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren was disqualified from that session. The last time McLaren, Ferrari and Williams lined up in the top three on the grid was at the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. The last time the three teams lined up in that order was at the 2003 European Grand Prix.
This is the first Russian Grand Prix at which neither Mercedes driver has qualified in the top three. Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth, while Valtteri Bottas recorded his worst ever Russian Grand Prix qualifying result with seventh.
Fernando Alonso reached Q3 at the Russian Grand Prix for the first time since the inaugural race at Sochi Autodrom in 2014. With sixth place, Alonso records his best qualifying result since qualifying sixth at the 2014 United States Grand Prix.
Qualifying in eighth, Lance Stroll reached Q3 at the Russian Grand Prix for the first time. This was Stroll’s sixth Q3 appearance of the 2021 season – but the first time he has qualified above tenth place.
With tenth place, Esteban Ocon maintained his 100% Q3 appearance record at the Russian Grand Prix.
OUT IN Q2
Sebastian Vettel qualified in eleventh place, failing to reach Q3 for a third successive race.
For only the third time in 2021, Pierre Gasly failed to reach the top ten in qualifying.
For the first time since the 2017 Russian Grand Prix, both Williams drivers reached Q2 at Sochi Autodrom.
Charles Leclerc, who carries a grid penalty for this race, qualified in fifteenth place. It’s the third time this year that he has not reached Q3.
OUT IN Q1
Nikita Mazepin is still yet to out-qualify anyone in Formula 1, aside from drivers who have failed to set lap times. The Russian driver was almost four seconds slower than his team-mate in qualifying for his home race.
The 2021 Russian Grand Prix is the third race of the season at which both Alfa Romeo and both Haas drivers were eliminated in Q1. It also happened at the Emilia Romagna and Belgian Grands Prix. Both teams also had both of their cars eliminated in Q1 at last year’s Russian Grand Prix.
Picking up an engine penalty for this race, Max Verstappen failed to set a lap time in Q1. This was Red Bull’s second Q1 exit in Russia; Alex Albon was eliminated in Q1 at the 2019 Russian Grand Prix.
Verstappen recorded his first Q1 exit since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix. It was the first time he has not qualified in the top three since the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. This is the sixth time in his career that Verstappen has qualified on the back row of the grid.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.