F1: Lewis Hamilton survives scare to take pole position in the Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton survives scare to take pole position in the Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton survives scare to take pole position in the Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton survives scare to take pole position in the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton revealed that he was terrified as he survived a major scare to put his Mercedes on pole for Sunday’s potentially historic Russian Grand Prix.

The British driver will start at the front of the grid in Sochi as he attempts to equal Michael Schumacher’s victory record with his 91st career triumph.

But Hamilton came within a single second of qualifying only 15th after his afternoon was plunged into jeopardy following Sebastian Vettel’s crash.

A re-booted Hamilton then returned in Q3, posting a dazzling track record at the Sochi Autodrom to obliterate his rivals, finishing more than half-a-second clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and six tenths ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes to secure pole 96 of his blockbuster career.

‘I had my heart in my mouth the whole way,’ said Hamilton, 35. ‘It was one of the hardest qualifying sessions that I can remember. It was horrible.

‘Everything was so rushed. There was panic, all sorts of things going on.

‘I had to calm myself down, find my centre, calm my heart down. I wanted to deliver in Q3. I was adamant that I had no other choice. I had to deliver on those two laps, and I needed a perfect lap to get the pole.

It marked another hugely-impressive chapter of the Briton’s career – one which will see him hang up his crash helmet as the most decorated driver the sport has ever seen.

Hamilton is now expected to reach Schumacher’s landmark on Sunday with Russian president Vladimir Putin potentially in town to witness a rewrite of the sport’s record books.