Johnny Herbert notes that he never won a pole and standing in front of Norris, he draws attention to the support he’s getting from his team. They’ve not laid down much rubber, so he should be able to get away well, but then Herbert tells us Sainz told him he’s worried about being on the “dirty side” of the track – there’s plenty of rubber deployed to help him.
This is also the first time since 1975 that none of the top three on the grid have won a Grand Prix. I’m absolutely certain Norris will be backing himself to sort that, but Sainz and Russell also have decent chances. Sainz says he’s surrounded by fast people so will need to start well if he’s to hold them off and thinks the car has the speed to win, but isn’t sure about the tyre degradation.
At the 1995 Argentinian Grand Prix, the grid ran Coulthard, Hill, Schumacher, Irvine, and that was the last time there were three Brits in the top four. Hill won, from Alesi from Schumacher, with a further Brit – Johnny Herbert – coming next.
In the pitlane, they reckon it’ll be a one-stop strategy for all, but those at the back will be starting on hards and staying out long, with those nearer the front moving through medium to softs.
F1 has been criticised for all sorts over the years, most particularly the notion that we know who’s going to win before they’ve won, and sometimes there’s been something in it – just as there is sometimes is in all sports. But not this one this season, because we’ve already seen more twists and turns than in a UK petrol-station queue and we can be sure there are plenty more to come.
During qualifying, Lewis Hamilton looked set for yet another pole position, only to clip a wall driving into the pitlane, so was relieved of the honour by the increasingly impressive Lando Norris – an error he might live to regret given that Max Verstappen, who leads him the driver standings by five points, starts from the back of the grid.
However, the course at Sochi allows for some overtaking and the inclement weather looks to have departed, so all in all, we’re set for yet another memorable go-around.
Lights out: 3pm local, 1pm BST