Lewis Hamilton was on a flying lap and had not yet set a lap time in Q2 (as his first lap was deleted for a track limits violation) when Sebastian Vettel crashed his Ferrari at the exit of turn four.
This resulted in the session being red flagged with two minutes and 15 seconds remaining – just about enough for everyone to do an out lap and get onto a flying lap.
However, Hamilton was compromised as while most of the remaining 15 drivers lined up at the exit of the pitlane several minutes before the session was restarted, the Brit couldn’t do so and ended up towards the back of the train.
This led to him having to overtake several drivers on his out lap – and he just about managed to cross the start-finish line before the timer hit zero.
After qualifying, Toto Wolff explained that Hamilton couldn’t do what most of the grid did, as the Mercedes engine cannot be switched off and then restarted outside of the garage using power from the MGU-K.
“We couldn’t really send him out early because you need to switch off the car and then restart it on the MGU-K, which is something we can’t do,” Wolff said.
All of the other power units – namely those manufactured by Honda, Renault and Ferrari – have this capability.
Hamilton still managed to secure pole position for the Russian Grand Prix, but he could be vulnerable in the race as he is on what’s considered to be an inferior tyre strategy relative to Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.
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