Sochi: Charles Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher to take four pole positions in a row on Saturday in a Russian Grand Prix qualifying session that bridged the generations.
Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton joined the Monegasque, who was three years old when Schumacher racked up four poles in a row in 2000, on the front row with Mercedes unable to match Ferrari’s single lap speed.
The unfazed 21-year-old has now out-qualified four times world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, who starts in third place, for nine successive races but he was not about to get carried away after his sixth pole of the season.
“The car felt amazing. It definitely feels great to be back on pole but I don’t know if it’s the best track to start on pole,” said Leclerc after lapping the Olympic Park circuit with a pole lap of one minute 31.628 seconds.
“It definitely feels very special but I don’t really want to think about those stats for now, I just want to focus on the job,” said the youngster when spoken of in the same breath as seven times world champion Schumacher.
“There’s still a long way to go tomorrow, we’ve been competitive all weekend long and the race simulation seems positive too. It’s looking good for tomorrow.”
Hamilton had been third behind the two Ferraris after the first flying laps of the final shoot-out session but the all-time pole record holder lifted himself onto the front row when it mattered. His time was 0.4 of a second slower than Leclerc but denied Ferrari a front row sweep by 0.023 ahead of a race that has only ever been won by Mercedes since it first appeared on the calendar in 2014.