With both Williams Racing drivers finishing in the top fifteen in the final
practice for the 2020 Russian Grand Prix the hope was that their qualifying
would see a similar result. A Williams would be the first car out but
shortly after there would be a rush of drivers coming out all on the soft
tyre. The Williams was on the medium but would pit without setting a time.
The only cars yet to come out were the Renault's and Albon. Bottas would set
a 1m:32.656 followed by Hamilton, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. But
Kvyat would move up to third. Hamilton would have his time deleted due to a
track limits infringement.
Perez was now second followed by Stroll, Verstappen, and Kvyat. Sainz was
now in third and Leclerc fourth. Ricciardo was now in fifth but this would
become sixth as Hamilton went second behind Bottas. Perez was third followed
by Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon and Stroll tenth. The
Williams drivers were in 13th while the second had yet to set a time. With
just over three minutes remaining drivers would start to come back out for
their second runs including both Williams. There was a queue of cars all on
flying laps including one of the Williams. With the end of the period one of
the Williams would be eliminated and the other into Q2.
With the start of Q2 there would be a rush of drivers coming out with both
Mercedes on the medium tyre. Apart from Verstappen the rest were on the soft
tyre. Hamilton would set a 1m:32.085 on the medium with Sainz now second but
Hamilton's time would be deleted seeing him yet to set a time. Ricciardo was
now quickest with a 1m:32.218 from Sainz, Perez, Bottas, Norris, Gasly,
Verstappen, Ocon, Leclerc and Kvyat tenth. Everyone would pit after their
first runs leaving a Williams running by itself. Hamilton had yet to set a
time so would have to use another set of medium tyres to achieve this. But
the period would come to a dramatic end as Vettel would crash his car seeing
a Red Flag come out.
Prior to the stoppage the order was Ricciardo, Bottas, Sainz, Perez, Norris,
Gasly, Verstappen, Ocon, Leclerc, and Kvyat tenth. There was just two
minutes and fifteen seconds remaining meaning that drivers looking to
improve could not take their out laps too slowly. There would be a line of
cars at the pit exit as they all waited for the period to restart. Stroll
would have an issue and would be pushed back to his garage ending his
qualifying. The only Williams did not come out for a further run. Hamilton
was able to go fourth fastest behind Sainz. The top ten would finish as
Ricciardo, Bottas, Sainz, Hamilton, Perez, Norris, Gasly, Albon, Verstappen,
and Ocon tenth.
The final period of qualifying would commence and after the first runs it
would be Hamilton quickest with a 1m:31.391 from Bottas, Verstappen,
Ricciardo, Perez, Sainz, Ocon, Albon, Gasly and Norris tenth. After the
second runs Hamilton would remain quickest but it would be Verstappen on the
front row with Bottas third. Perez was in fourth followed by Ricciardo,
Sainz, Ocon, Norris, Gasly, and Albon in tenth. Despite Nicholas's mistake
seeing him get only one flying lap it was still an encouraging qualifying
for Williams Racing. It was fantastic to see George into Q2 despite been at
a track which I understand doesn't suit the FW43. George achieved what he
did based not on some luck but by sheer pace alone, such a change from 2019.