Russell Sets the 3rd Fastest Time in Sochi FIA F2 Qualifying
ART Grand Prix's championship leader George Russell will start from 3rd on the grid for the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race at Sochi Autodrom
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Reserve Driver made his first visit to the Sochi Autodrom in Russia for the 11th round of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Russell set the 3rd fastest time in the Free Practice session, where he was on course to topping the times before a lock-up at Turn 12 curtailed his quickest run.
Qualifying began shortly after the Formula One Free Practice 2 session, where Russell was immediately quick out of the blocks. The Briton went to the top of the times after the opening run, usurping nearest championship rival Lando Norris by almost four tenths of a second.
A red flag was soon flown, stopping the session temporarily after the Trident of Arjun Maini had a spin and stalled on the circuit.
The session was resumed just minutes later once the stranded car was recovered, where a number of drivers who weren't able to set a lap-time before the red flag stacked at the pit exit.
Russell went for a second run on the opening set of tyres, where he improved his benchmark once again by another tenth of a second - extending his advantage to his nearest rival Nyck de Vries to 0.336s.
With just ten minutes left to run, the driver's filtered out for their final runs. Russell went for a quick lap after his two warm-up laps, however he hit traffic at the end of the first sector - causing him to abort his first attempt.
In the meantime, de Vries set a 1:46.476s lap to pop himself onto provisional pole position, bumping Russell down to 2nd on the grid. Russell got a lap-time in on his second push lap to improve his time, however it wasn't enough to retake pole position.
As the session reached its climax, Norris managed to hook up a lap to put himself 2nd on the grid, to put himself one ahead of Russell, meaning the two main championship contenders would start next to each other for tomorrow's Feature Race.
George Russell "I made quite a big mistake in the second corner in my final run, and I tried to compensate in sector 1 and 2, and I was over-pushing. We already lost the time and were never gonna get it back, so I ended up hurting myself even more.
I was a bit disappointed to be honest, I think I was the only driver in the top twelve bar one not to improve over seven tenths – I only improved half a tenth – so I think pole was there for the taking.
Nevertheless, we’re being consistent, it’s the tenth time we’ve started from the top 4 – which is a good place to start, especially with a long run to turn 2 – so if it’s not pole, anywhere in the top 4 I’m happy with."
The 28-lap race around the 5.848km circuit will start at 16:45 (GMT +3) with the live action shown on Sky Sports F1 HD, for the first race of the penultimate weekend of the 2018 Formula 2 Championship.
Photos: FIA Formula 2 Media