Lewis Hamilton. (Xinhua/Ding Ting/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Sochi, Sep 26 : Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on Saturday took his 96th pole position ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, coming back to being within two seconds of being knocked out of Q2 in a dramatic qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom which saw Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel crash heavily. Hamilton is looking to equal German Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher's record of 91 race wins.

Hamilton's Q2 times were deleted due to track limits infringement which put him in the drop zone. Vettel's crash at Turn 4, however, brought out the red flag and on restart, Hamilton crossed the line with less than two seconds to spare to make his flying lap. He posted the fourth quickest time to make it to Q3 in which a stunning first lap of 1m 31.391s helped him break the track record and take pole.

His team mate Valterri Bottas, who led Q1, ended up taking P3 while second placed Max Verstappen of Red Bull was as much as 0.563s behind Hamilton. Behind the top three, an excellent effort from Sergio Perez of Racing Point saw him claim fourth on the grid, ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. Perez's team mate Lance Stroll was unable to show what he could do after a mechanical issue saw him drop out in Q2. McLaren's Carlos Sainz took P6, ahead of Renault's Esteban Ocon and his teammmate Lando Norris.

Pierre Gasly took P9 in his AlphaTauri while Red Bull's Alex Albon finishes the top 10.

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