Hamilton beats Rosberg to Russian GP pole

Mercedes teammates finish qualifying round in familiar one-two

Afp October 11, 2014

SOCHI: World championship leader Lewis Hamilton continued to dominate with a sizzling lap on Saturday to secure pole position for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

The 29-year-old Briton, winner of the last three grands prix, was fastest with a late lap at the new Sochi Autodrom to finish two-tenths of a second clear of his Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

The German, 10 points behind Hamilton in the championship with four races remaining, pushed hard to catch him, but was almost overhauled by Finn Valtteri Bottas in the final seconds, the Williams driver only missing out on a front row start when he slid off circuit at the penultimate corner.

It was Hamilton's seventh pole this year and the 38th of his career and, for the Mercedes team another front row lockout, their ninth of the season ahead of today's race in which they can clinch the constructors' crown, ending Red Bull's four year reign as team champions.

"Pole is a great place to start and the team have done a great job," said Hamilton.

Rosberg was swiftly on top in Q2, but after a fast Bottas lap, Hamilton romped clear again in another demonstration of his pure speed and talent, his current supremacy accentuated as four-time champion Vettel failed to make the top 10 shootout.

As the German dropped out, both Toro Rossos went through.

"He just didn't get the balance and the lap," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team are likely to pass their champions' crown to Mercedes today.

Meanwhile, Briton Jenson Button recovered from an undistinguished showing in yesterday morning's final free practice to take fourth place on the grid alongside Bottas.

Local favourite Daniil Kvyat claimed a rousing fifth place for Toro Rosso to the delight of a capacity crowd in the Olympic Park circuit. It was the 20-year-old Russian's best qualifying performance.


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