Lewis Hamilton (8/11 – to win race) has apologised to his Mercedes team following  two late crashes which saw him miss out on pole position for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

Reigning champion Hamilton had been the clear favourite to secure pole, especially as title rival Max Verstappen (10/1 – to win race) was already confirmed as starting from the back of the grid after opting to change the engine in his Red Bull.

However, things did not transpire as Hamilton would have hoped, as two uncharacteristic crashes scuppered his chance of qualifying fastest, as he first hit a wall on his way into the pits before, minutes later, he spun and nudged the barriers during his final lap of the session.

That meant Hamilton had to settle for fourth place on the grid, with the Brit admitting after the session that he was “incredibly disappointed” by his errors, but he is determined to make amends during Sunday’s race.

“It was just a mistake. I’m incredibly disappointed in myself,” Hamilton said. “Up until then I was in the groove, I was really in the zone.

“I’m really sorry to all the team because that’s not what you expect from a champion. Twice in the wall… that’s very rare for me.

“These things are sent to try us. I feel terrible right now, but I’ll turn it into a positive.”

Hamilton’s mistakes opened the door for McLaren’s Lando Norris (3/1 – to win race) to claim the first pole of his career, with the 21-year-old posting a time 0.517 seconds faster than nearest rival Carlos Sainz Jr (12/1) of Ferrari, who will start alongside him on the front row.

“It feels amazing,” Norris said regarding his maiden pole. “I don’t know what to say. Quite a manic session. You never think you’re going to get a pole until you get it. I’m extremely happy.”

Wet conditions did play a part in what was a frenetic qualifying session, with Practice Three having been cancelled earlier in the day due to the weather.

Brighter conditions are forecast for Sunday’s race, where Hamilton (5/6 – to win world title) will be hoping to produce a positive performance which will see him overtake Verstappen (5/6) at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings.

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