Lando Norris starts on pole for the first time in his F1 career as round 15 takes place in Sochi.
In a wet Saturday qualifying session, the 21-year-old drove the fastest lap to put his McLaren out front, with Lewis Hamilton only managing fourth and Max Verstappen starting from the very back of the grid as they battle for the championship.
Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari and Williams’ George Russell are the drivers starting immediately behind Norris, but with more rain forecast for this afternoon and a mixed-up grid order, this is an impossible race to predict.
The Sochi circuit usually isn’t the most popular on the calendar with either drivers or fans, but with the likes of Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc starting from the rear of the field there combined with the weather, there should be far more overtaking opportunities than in previous years.
Verstappen currently leads the championship by five points, and will need to fly up the order to prevent Hamilton from overtaking him with only eight races to go. Mercedes are ahead in the constructors’ championship, leading Red Bull by 18 points.
Follow the action live from the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi below:
Hamilton strong favourite for victory
LAP 38/53: Norris and Hamilton are now 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field but the gap between the two is less than two seconds.
Hamilton in the faster car has fifteen laps to pick his moment, make the move, and take the win.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 14:08
Perez pits from the lead and Norris leads
LAP 37/53: Sergio Perez’s chances of a victory are over after a terrible Red Bull pit stop lasting 8.9s leaves him in fifth place behind Sainz and Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso pits too and that means Lando Norris is back in the lead.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 14:07
Hamilton overtakes Leclerc on Norris hunt
LAP 36/53: Very shortly afterwards Hamilton makes use of DRS on the back straight to cut his way past Leclerc’s Ferrari, and the gap to Norris ahead now is only four seconds. The world champion will catch the youngster in the near future.
Leclerc pits and re-enters in 13th position.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 14:04
Norris passes Leclerc for third
LAP 34/53: Lando Norris has caught up with the first driver who has yet to stop and overtaken him in the process.
The McLaren starts the fight on the brakes into turn two and keeps his composure through the sweeping turn three in order to out-traction the Ferrari and move back into the podium places.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 14:02
Perez could win this race
LAP 33/53: Sergio Perez currently leads and the Grand Prix and is going long on the hard tyres he started the race with.
The Mexican will eventually come out after his pit-stop around six seconds behind Hamilton, on a faster compound of rubber, and could well cause the Mercedes big problems right at the end of the race.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 14:00
Ricciardo and Verstappen pass Stroll
LAP 32/53: Lance Stroll made his pit-stop early in order to exploit the undercut but he’s being punished now on much older tyres than those around him.
Daniel Ricciardo hangs a move around the outside of turn three first of all before Max Verstappen uses DRS on the back straight to pass the Canadian comfortably.
Ricciardo is eighth, Verstappen ninth.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 13:58
Hamilton makes overtakes and Wolff wants the win
LAP 30/53: On this evidence though Hamilton needs no help at all!
The Mercedes man passes Stroll, Sainz and Gasly in quick succession and is now eight seconds behind Norris and chasing the McLaren down.
“You can still win this race!” says Toto Wolff over the team radio.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 13:56
Bottas nowhere and can’t help Hamilton
LAP 30/53: Valtteri Bottas is enduring a torrid race is nowhere near being able to help his team-mate out, here.
The Finn has just made his pit-stop and is down in a lowly 16th behind Antonio Giovinazzi.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 13:55
Lando Norris pits from the lead
LAP 29/53: Lando Norris makes his stop and drops to fourth place behind Perez, Alonso and Leclerc, none of whom have stopped yet.
That’s a strong recovery from McLaren after a slow stop with Ricciardo earlier.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 13:53
Verstappen passes Russell
LAP 28/53: Verstappen has made a very swift move on Russell to take 11th place, and now has Daniel Ricciardo in his sights.
The Dutchman can score very strong points here still.
Dan Austin26 September 2021 13:52