Hamilton expecting to struggle in Russian GP

Lewis Hamilton is expecting to struggle in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix due to having to start the race on the soft compound tyre.

The six-time world champion was aiming to start the race on the medium compound tyre, like his teammate Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but a late red flag in Q2 meant he had to use the soft tyres to get through.

Hamilton should have got through to Q3 on the medium tyre easily, but he had his first flying lap deleted for breaching track limits, meaning he had no recorded time when the red flag came out with two minutes and 15 seconds remaining after Sebastian Vettel crashed.

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In order to make sure Hamilton got through to Q3, Mercedes opted to put him on to the soft tyre and he ended up fourth fastest before going on to secure pole position by five tenths from Verstappen in second.

But, despite ending up on pole, Hamilton believes leading the field down the long straight to Turn 1 leaves him at a significant disadvantage.

Speaking about starting from pole, the world champion said: “It’s not a good place to start at all and I think this year you’re seeing our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years.

“I generally expect one of these two to come flying by at some point.

“So, I think I’m just going to focus on my race and just try to run the fastest race I can.”

He also acknowledged that his issues in Q2 have compromised his race strategy and he is expecting it to be difficult to win the Grand Prix.

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“Obviously I’m on the worst tyre to start on the race but generally it’s a good tyre to do an actual start but it doesn’t have… it has the biggest degradation, ten times more than any other tyre, I think it is. So that’s going to be a struggle.

“I don’t know if that puts me onto a two-stop, I don’t know, unlikely because the pit lane is too slow, so I’m just going to have to nurse those tyres as far as I can.

“These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away so going to sit down tonight to try to figure out if there’s a different kind of race I can do tomorrow to keep my position.”