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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Charles Leclerc Snags 4th Consecutive Pole in Sochi

Ferrari continued their recent run of success in a relatively uneventful qualifying session on Saturday, as Charles Leclerc snatched the pole for tomorrow’s Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom with a lap at 142.777 mph.

The pole marks the young Monegasque’s fourth straight pole, bringing his total up to six for the season. 

Despite the seventh pole of the year for the team, there was still a sense of disappointment for the Italian marque after securing the top two positions in the morning’s practice session.

In the closing seconds of Q3, Lewis Hamilton got the better of Sebastian Vettel and will start alongside Leclerc on the front row, albeit four-tenths off the pace.

Hamilton’s near-perfect lap dashed all hopes of a Ferrari front row lockout, pushing Vettel back to third. Max Verstappen, saddled with a five-spot grid penalty for a power-unit change, set the fourth best time of Q3, but will start Sunday’s race from ninth, behind the likes of both McLarens, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean’s Haas Machine.

Grosjean impressed by setting the sixth best time in Q2, advancing into the final round while his teammate, Kevin Magnussen, was eliminated and will start in 14th.

Valtteri Bottas was unable to match his teammate’s time–his best lap was six-tenths slower than Hamilton’s–but will start alongside Vettel on the second row by virtue of Verstappen’s penalty.

The Dutchman’s teammate, Alexander Albon, had an even worse afternoon, as he backed his Aston Martin Red Bull machine into the Turn 13 barriers during Q1, the lone incident of the session. He’ll start in 18th.

Daniel Ricciardo, after crashing earlier in the weekend, still managed to put his Renault in Q3. The Aussie will start 10th.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat had issues with his power unit during Free Practice No. 3 Saturday morning, forcing him to pull off. That necessitated a power unit change that precluded the Russian driver from participating in qualifying. He’ll start from the back of the field on Sunday.

Despite starting on the pole, it’ll be a tough task to convert. Since coming to Sochi, Mercedes has won every race, with Hamilton owning three of those victories. But if the last three weeks are any indication, Ferrari just might be up to the task.

The Russian Grand Prix begins Sunday at 7:10 a.m. ET, with live coverage on ESPN2.

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