Russian GP Qualifying Facts & Stats: A first pole for McLaren since 2012, and a first front row start for Sainz

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Sean Kelly
SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Pole position qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1

The forecast rain arrived in Sochi, washing out FP3 and leading to a very exciting qualifying session in tricky conditions. George Russell was the first to gamble by switching to the soft compound dry tyres as the track started to dry in Q3, causing the rest of the field to scramble to follow suit. A double crash for Lewis Hamilton left him out of contention, and none other than Lando Norris stepped up for McLaren to grab a maiden pole position. With Carlos Sainz alongside and Russell in third, this qualifying session threw up plenty of interesting facts and stats…

• Lando Norris becomes the 102nd driver to take a pole position in Formula 1.

• McLaren hadn’t taken a pole or win since Brazil 2012 until Monza last time out and now here in Sochi.

• This is the first Sochi pole for a team other than Mercedes or Ferrari.

READ MORE: Norris beats Sainz and Russell to claim sensational maiden pole for Russian Grand Prix

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Pole position qualifier Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1

This is McLaren's first pole since 2012

• Carlos Sainz in second makes his first career front row start, and makes him the second Spaniard to start on the front row after Fernando Alonso.

• George Russell’s third position means it is a McLaren, Ferrari, Williams 1-2-3 on the grid.

• The winner in Sochi has always come from the top three on the grid.

• This was Russell’s fourth Q3 appearance of the season, which have all come in the last seven races.

• Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth, for his worst Sochi start since 2017. He also started fourth in Monza.

WATCH: 2021 Russian GP Qualifying: Hamilton crashes into wall on pit entry

• Ricciardo lines up fifth, the same slot as he had here last season.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG

Hamilton has his lowest start here since 2017 when he also lined up fourth

• Alonso’s sixth is his highest career start in Sochi, and best anywhere since Brazil 2017.

• Valtteri Bottas could only manage P7 – having never previously started outside the top four in Russia.

• Lance Stroll’s eighth is his best-ever in Russia, and his first Q3 appearance in six races.

• Sergio Perez starts ninth, five places lower than he managed for Racing Point last year.

• Esteban Ocon maintains his 100% record of always starting in the top 10 in Russia.

• Pierre Gasly fails to reach Q3 for only the third time this season.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia AlphaTauri and France  during qualifying

Gasly was left disappointed after missing out in Q2

• Nicholas Latifi progresses to Q2 for the third time in the last four races.

• Kimi Raikkonen fell by the wayside in Q1 for the sixth time in the last seven races.

• But the Finn did out-qualify a team mate in Sochi for the first time since the race was added to the calendar in 2014.

• Mick Schumacher clinched the season head-to-head against Nikita Mazepin. The German leads 12-3.

• Max Verstappen has started every race this season in the top three, but recorded his first Q1 exit since Italy 2019, which was a race where he also had grid penalties looming.

READ MORE: Grid penalty-hit Verstappen explains why Red Bull chose to take new engine at Sochi


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