Lewis Hamilton ensured the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team secured their fifteenth pole position out of sixteen races at Sochi, as the Briton beat his team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.200s to take the inaugural pole at the circuit.
Hamilton was able to take his seventh pole position of the season at Sochi, but admitted he was relieved to be told that he’d taken top spot after being the first of the contenders to cross the line. He feels the race on Sunday will be a challenge, but was happy to see so many fans in the grandstands for qualifying.
“It’s an amazing feeling to come to this beautiful place and to race on this track,” reflected Hamilton. “It’s fun to drive. Today, the laps in practice felt more special. In qualifying it seemed a bit harder to get that special lap but I’m grateful that I was able to improve. I crossed the line and I was just hoping I got it; when they tell you, it’s the biggest relief – a great feeling.
“The corners are mostly medium and high speed where you need a lot of downforce, so tomorrow should be a challenge. It’s a long run down to Turn One and we need to be mindful there are opportunities to overtake here.
“It was great to see such a strong turnout for the first Saturday of running at this new track. Hopefully we can give them a good show tomorrow.”
Rosberg joins his team-mate on the front row, but felt the Briton had the edge on him during the qualifying session but hopes to be able to take the fight to Hamilton for the race victory on Sunday.
“That was a very difficult qualifying today; we had to adapt a lot of things,” insisted Rosberg. “The track is new and so unique: the tyres last very long as the surface is very smooth.
“Lewis was just quicker today so I need to have a good start tomorrow. Starting from the front-row is still a good position to begin the race. I guess this will be an exciting Grand Prix; there will be some opportunities to overtake on the straights and I am sure we will see plenty of action on track.”