Lewis Hamilton at Sochi

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Live Reporting

Michael Emons

All times stated are UK

  1. Can Verstappen challenge Mercedes?

    Andrew Benson

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer

    Max Verstappen

    Copyright: EPA

    It was a major surprise to see Max Verstappen split the Mercedes in the Red Bull and team boss Christian Horner reckoned it was one of his best laps of the season. “It felt really good,” Verstappen said. “Trying to find the right balance because I was actually struggling quite a bit throughout qualifying to really nail all the entry speeds, because I was oversteering a lot.

    “So, step-by-step I think we were doing a better job. Q3, run one was a bit better but the second run, made a few changes and that just gave me a little bit more grip and, on this track, you really need a lot of entry grip, so yeah, that was very satisfying. It was a really nice lap to drive. It’s not pole position but for me, to be on the first row, I definitely didn’t expect that going into qualifying.”

    The key was a smart move in letting Valtteri Bottas past him at the end of the Finn’s qualifying lap, so Verstappen could get a tow from the Mercedes down the straight at the start of his, so negating the Red Bull’s straight-line deficit.

    But can he challenge the Mercedes in the race? In the last two races – ever since the new rules restricting teams to one engine mode for qualifying and race – Verstappen has dropped places as a result of engine problems off the line, and subsequently retired. “I would like to have a good start, and by start I mean once I go full throttle to have full power, that would be nice and then not get taken out,” he said pointedly. “After two retirements I think it’s good to score some points again.”

    Team-mate Alex Albon was a perplexed 10th, not able to explain the second gap between them, but suspecting some of it it was down to tyre temperature. And he has a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change as well, so will start 15th.

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    Your thoughts on today’s action

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  3. Thousands of fans to attend today’s race

    Formula 1 is set to stage the biggest sporting spectator-event of the Covid-19 era with up to 30,000 fans expected at today’s Russian Grand Prix.

    The F1 season has taken place behind closed doors, but 3,000 spectators were admitted to the Tuscan Grand Prix in Mugello earlier this month.

    Fans in Russia will be encouraged to wear face masks and observe social-distancing guidelines.

    The Sochi Autodrom can host up to 60,000 spectators so no more than half full, but will be the biggest crowd at F1 so far this season by far.

  4. Up to ten…

    This has been an incredible effort from all involved to ensure we could have any kind of Formula 1 season in these crazy coronavirus times. We are up to race 10 of a potential 17 and another step closer to normal today…

    2020 calendar

    Copyright: F1

  5. Kimi joins Rubens’ club

  6. ‘A proud moment for the Hamilton family’

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    Copyright: Getty Images

    There are two Hamiltons racing this weekend with Lewis Hamilton’s half-brother Nicolas, who was born with cerebral palsy, competing in the British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone while Lewis Hamilton is racing in Russia.

    “He is on the brink of securing his seventh world title which is incredible,” Nic Hamilton told BBC Sport.

    “I always dreamed I would have a race weekend on the same weekend as his. I never thought I would be able to drive, I was told I would never walk. To be standing here today, unaided and driving a British Touring Car is fantastic.

    “To do this at the same weekend as Lewis is a proud moment for the Hamilton family.”

    Nic Hamilton also spoke about how proud he is of Lewis for using his platform and profile to fight for racial equality and justice.

    “I was already proud before any of this, when we played games at home I was just as proud of him,” he added.

    “Lewis has really developed as a personality, as a character, as a driver, he is like a fine wine it seems he gets better with age and stronger. To be a figurehead away from motorsport as well is fantastic because he is transcending his sport.

    “To be inspiring people away from the sport is truly incredible.”

  7. 10/10 for getting 6/10

    Williams’ George Russell is yet to score a point in his Formula 1 career but he continues to impress in qualifying. That’s six times into Q2 and a first point not far away surely.

  8. Do it the hard way

    Andrew Benson

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer

    Lewis Hamilton sealed a 96th pole position at the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday – remarkably, he looks like he can reach a century this season – and now has the chance to set a record-equalling 91st victory.

    But he’s going to have to do it the hard way. Not only is he concerned about being slipstreamed down to the first corner, but he’s also on a disadvantageous strategy starting on the soft tyre, after a chaotic qualifying session, while Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas behind him are on the favoured medium. This might be far from Formula 1’s greatest venue, but there is plenty of intrigue going into this race.

  9. How they start

    So you’ve seen the times from yesterday, but that’s not how we start as Red Bull’s Alexander Albon and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi have both been handed five-place grid penalties, meaning we start like this…

  10. Post update

    So Lewis Hamilton continues to find a way of sticking his car on pole, no matter what has happened before him.

    Incredibly, he could reach 100 pole positions and that could come as quickly as in Turkey in the middle of November.

  11. Post update

  12. Times from qualifying

  13. Hamilton’s dramatic pole

    Andrew Benson

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer

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    Copyright: .

    Lewis Hamilton took a dramatic pole position at the Russian Grand Prix despite coming within a second of qualifying down in 15th.

    Hamilton had no time in the second knock-out session when it stopped after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed.

    It was restarted with just two minutes and 15 seconds left and Hamilton made it to the line with a second to spare.

    But in the final session Hamilton was flawless as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped Valtteri Bottas to second.

    Hamilton was 0.652 seconds quicker than team-mate Bottas, while Verstappen took his place on the front row 0.563secs behind the world champion.

    Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 Grand Prix victories this weekend.

    Read Andrew’s full report here.

  14. Welcome along

    Hello everyone and welcome along to BBC Sport’s coverage of the Russian Grand Prix.

    I’m Michael Emons and will be talking you through all the action today.

    We start a bit earlier than normal today as it’s lights out at 12:10 BST and we will have live radio commentary from just before that.

    Lewis Hamilton on pole. So another routine day? Not necessarily. Hamilton nearly had a qualifying disaster and he starts on the softs so will have to pit a lot earlier than all his rivals. Also, a tow into the first turn could be a massive benefit to Max Verstappen in second.

    We’ve had a couple of amazing races in a row. We could well be set for another classic.

  15. Historic?

    It was a record that looked impossible to catch.

    Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Formula 1 race wins has long been the benchmark in the sport, but today Lewis Hamilton could match that incredible total in what could be a historic day for the sport.

    He starts at the front.

    Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton

    Copyright: Getty Images