Hamilton puts Mercedes on pole in Russia

Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:32pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SOCHI Russia (Reuters) - Championship leader Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for the first Russian Grand Prix on Saturday with team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg having to settle for second.

The pole was the 29-year-old Briton's seventh of the season and 38th of his career, but he felt he could have done better on a new circuit that snakes around the Sochi Winter Olympic park.

"It wasn't a perfect lap I think there was more time in it," said the 2008 champion, who leads Rosberg by 10 points with four races remaining.

"The track surface is great, very smooth but it's got a lot of grip," added Hamilton. "The kerbs are done nicely and the surroundings, being around the Olympic Park is quite an incredible place."

Rosberg had to recognize that Hamilton, fastest also in practice, had been quicker all weekend but hoped he could get the jump at the start.

"I think the start will be important of course, there's a great opportunity there," he said. "I've been having some very good starts lately so quite confident for that."

Both were given a scare by Valtteri Bottas, whose Williams was quicker through the first two sectors before the Finn made a big mistake right at the end and was unable to improve on his third place.

"I didn't know at that time it was close to the pole," he said. "I risked it a bit too much in last two corners, went a bit wide and when you go off, it's really slippery."   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain attends the third free practice session at the Russian F1 Grand Prix in the Sochi Autodrom circuit October 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov