Hamilton was doing "qualifying laps" to follow Ferraris

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton says he was trying to "do qualifying laps every lap" to keep pace with Ferrari in the first phase of the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was doing "qualifying laps" to follow Ferraris

The championship leader trailed Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc during the opening stint at Sochi as Ferrari cemented its qualifying advantage and Mercedes committed to staying out longer on harder tyres.

Hamilton eventually took the win when Vettel retired with a suspect MGU-K failure and triggered a virtual safety car that allowed Hamilton to make his pitstop under a caution period and jump Leclerc, who had to pit earlier because he was on softs.

"When we did the laps to the grid, I didn't have a lot of grip," said Hamilton when asked about the significance of starting on medium tyres.

"I was a bit worried. And then we lost a little bit from the initial phase [of the start], but then I wasn't able to get to the tow because he [Leclerc] stayed on the left and gave Seb the tow.

"I tried to sneak in behind Seb but there was a McLaren there so I had no tow down to Turn 1 and I nearly lost another place.

"After that it was just trying to keep up with them, but it was like trying to do qualifying laps every lap trying to keep up with them because they were so fast. It was massive challenge but one I'm really proud of."

Read Also:

Hamilton remained in DRS range of Leclerc during the first three laps of the grand prix but was more than 3.5s behind by lap 10.

By the time Leclerc made his pitstops that gap had come down by a second, while Hamilton had cut two seconds out of Vettel's race lead and was just five seconds behind when Vettel pit a few laps after Leclerc.

Mercedes' plan was to give Hamilton enough of an offset to come back at the Ferraris towards the end of the race, but Hamilton admitted afterwards that starting on the softs would have been better.

"Before the race we sat down and had our estimations of whether the soft tyres will last or not – either we'll be correct or they'll be correct," said Hamilton.

"Ultimately they were right, because the soft tyre was much stronger than we anticipated. Keeping up with their consistency and their speed was so hard. I wasn't expecting that."

While Mercedes was fortunate the safety car swung the race in its favour, Hamilton hailed his team's efforts to be in a position to capitalise.

"This weekend we knew that we had have to pull more out of this car and there was more potential there, but we didn't know where it was," he said.

"I think we pulled ourselves a little bit closer to the Ferraris this weekend and it was just enough to get ahead of them."

shares
comments
Bottas: Ferrari VSC was "miracle" Mercedes hoped for

Previous article

Bottas: Ferrari VSC was "miracle" Mercedes hoped for

Next article

Will F1 have a three-way fight to the end of 2019?

Will F1 have a three-way fight to the end of 2019?
Load comments
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Prime

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. Damien Smith brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1.

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Prime

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus Prime

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Prime

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Prime

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021