Charles Leclerc underlined Ferrari’s growing dominance by sealing a fourth successive pole this season at the Russian Grand Prix. The 21-year-old, who won in Belgium and Italy and was second last time out in Singapore, recorded the fastest lap in Sochi, 0.402 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The world champion just squeezed out Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.023 seconds, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fourth ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. However, Verstappen has a five-place grid penalty and will drop down to ninth on the grid, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz now fifth.
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The top 10 is completed by Nico Hulkenberg, Lando Norris, Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton has alluded to the fact Mercedes will struggle to match the Ferrari pace for the remainder of the 2019 campaign and reiterated the point to Sky Sports after qualifying.
“It was a tough qualifying session because these guys (the Ferraris) have some crazy speeds on the straights,” he said. “They go to another level – jet mode. “I gave it everything I had at the end and I’m so glad it came together. I wasn’t expecting to get on the front row, so I’m really happy. “They have that power, so we have got to try something. I think the team have done a good job for putting us into that position.”