Norris left speechless after maiden F1 pole
By Mat Coch
Sunday 26th September, 2021 - 12:14am
Lando Norris was lost for words after claiming pole position for the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix following a “manic” session in Sochi.
His maiden pole, Norris made the most of drying conditions to log his time as the chequered flag fell, besting Carlos Sainz and George Russell to top spot.
“Oh boy it feels amazing,” Norris said.
“I don’t know what to say.
“Quite a manic session but it was all going well and obviously made the decision in the end to go to slicks.
“You never think you’re going get a pole until you get it and now I’ve managed to do it, so extremely happy and big thanks to the team as well, they’ve done an amazing job.”
Qualifying began in thoroughly wet conditions, rain throughout the day having seen Free Practice 1 cancelled.
However the weather had eased and a dry line began to appear in the opening stages of Qualifying 3.
George Russell was the first to switch to slicks, followed closely by Norris and McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The challenge was then maintaining tyre temperature to secure a laptime in the final moments of the session.
“It was tough,” Norris admitted.
“It was tricky because it was really that crossover section, and the lap before I was like two seconds down and I wasn’t very confident we’re going to improve on the previous lap.
“But I kept the tyres warm and prepared the final lap, and I risked quite a bit, I’m going to admit, and it paid off.”
Norris’ performance marks McLaren’s first pole since Lewis Hamilton started first for the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
It comes on the back of a one-two for the team in the Italian Grand Prix two weekends ago, which saw the Brit follow team-mate Ricciardo to the flag.
He dubbed that result “the most downbeat second place I think I’ll ever have”.
“Coming off of Monza this is not something we really expected,” he said after qualifying.
“But these kind of conditions are when we can take opportunities and that’s exactly what we did today.
“This is an awesome way to start, and hopefully we can continue it again tomorrow.”
The 21-year-old now faces the prospect of leading the field on the long run to the first braking zone, at Turn 2, at the start of Sunday’s race.
“I’m not really looking forward to it,” he admitted.
“I’m not looking forward to being first down to Turn 1 tomorrow, but you never know.
“It’s going to set us up well, we’re in the best position we can be in, so I’m happy.
“It’s my first pole position, hopefully the first of many. I’m just really happy.”
The Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix gets underway at 22:00 AEST on Sunday.