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Russian GP: Lance starts eighth after damp qualifying

Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team's Lance Stroll will start the 2021 Russian Grand Prix from eighth after a topsy-turvy qualifying session in Sochi that took place in damp conditions.

Lance Stroll, 2021 Russian Grand Prix

The team was denied the chance to make it both cars into Q3 at the very last second when improving track conditions knocked Sebastian out of contention for the top 10.

Earlier in the day, the third practice session was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. But the weather later cleared and allowed qualifying to take place as expected.

Lance

Lance demonstrated his skill in wet conditions once again, taking to the circuit on Intermediate tyres and immediately battling towards the front of the field.

His first effort was a 1.51.136 to go fourth, before the lap times quickly tumbled as the Formula One cars created a drying line.

Regardless, Lance remained inside the top 10 but vastly improved his best effort to 1.49.034.

As the battle to make Q2 intensified, Lance made sure of his place by lapping in 1.48.322 in the final minutes to take 12th.

The Canadian was one of the first drivers to complete a flying lap in Q2 and surged to second after lapping in 1.47.114.

Once again on the Intermediates, his first effort demonstrated how quickly the Sochi circuit was drying, even if slick tyres were not yet an option.

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Lance fired in a 1.46.439 lap time in the final five minutes to ensure he would stay ahead of the battle for Q3 as drivers rapidly traded places in the last moments.

While Lance and the field began Q3 on the Intermediate tyre, the first lap proved that slick tyres were now viable.

Lance first completed a banker lap in 1.45.415 to go provisionally third before pitting to take on a set of new Soft tyres.

While conditions made the opening lap on the slick tyre challenging, they came to life on the last lap.

Lance posted a 1.44.956 lap time to secure eighth on the grid and put himself firmly into points contention in tomorrow's race.

Q1
1.48.322
12th
Q2
1.46.360
7th
Q3
1.44.956
8th

"I am happy that we made it into Q3 and P8 is a good starting position to fight for points tomorrow. We made a decent step forward compared to yesterday and the team did a good job in challenging conditions.

"I do think there was more on the table on the last lap, though. What affected the lap most was traffic in the last sector [caused by Sergio Perez] and my lap time was hurt under braking into Turns 13, 14 and 15.

"I also had issues with Daniel [Ricciardo] getting in my way in Q1. It was a bit frustrating, but we will look ahead to tomorrow now.

"It is a long run to the first braking point here and there is a lot of slipstreaming, so let us see what happens on Sunday."

Sebastian

Sebastian picked up where he left off from Friday's practice sessions and immediately showcased his potential in Q1.

Touring on a set of Intermediates, his first flying lap yielded a 1.52.383 time to put him well inside the top 10 early on.

A greasy track surface quickly improved and allowed for lap times to improve by seconds – demonstrated by Sebastian's next effort of 1.48.574 that put him inside the top 10 with five minutes remaining in Q1.

He ensured his place in Q2 by firing in two new personal bests and his 1.47.205 effort secured fourth at the checkered flag.

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Lance Stroll, 2021 Russian Grand Prix
Lance Stroll, 2021 Russian Grand Prix

Conditions were still not suitable for anything other than Intermediates, so again Sebastian bolted on a set and racked up the laps.

Throughout running, the German took advantage of a drier racing line and track evolution to fight well inside the top 10.

A 1.46.573 flying lap in the final minutes of the session looked set to ensure that the team got both cars into Q3.

But in the final seconds, a series of laps from rivals' knocked Sebastian into P11 and agonisingly short of Q3, missing out by five-hundredths of a second.

While disappointing, the slipstreaming start to the Russian Grand Prix offers Sebastian plenty of opportunity to surge forward and fight for points.

Q1
1.47.205
10th
Q2
1.46.573
11th

"We definitely had the potential to have a much better result today. I think we had the pace to easily progress to Q3, but I had traffic on my final run [from Yuki Tsunoda] and I just missed out.

"I am annoyed with myself because I should have put in a better time the lap before as well. It means we are starting on the edge of the top 10 and unfortunately overtaking is not so easy here."

Russian Grand Prix

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Russian Grand Prix

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