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Hamilton believes F1 rivals will feel wounded by gap to Mercedes

Hamilton believes F1 rivals will feel wounded by gap to Mercedes

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Hamilton believes F1 rivals will feel wounded by gap to Mercedes

Hamilton believes F1 rivals will feel wounded by gap to Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton believes the Formula 1 pack will have felt stunned by the yawning gap to Mercedes in practice for the Russian Grand Prix despite a sloppy day at the Sochi Autodrom for the team.

Hamilton suffered a lock-up on each of three compounds across the two sessions, notably on the soft tyre on a lower-fuel run in FP2 that denied him top spot on the timesheet after he had purpled the first two sectors.

The six-time F1 champion, who can equal Michael Schumacher's record of 91 wins by taking the chequered flag in Russia, was forced to settle for second behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Even the Finn messed up his quickest lap by taking to the grass as he exited the final corner, yet he was still astonishingly just over a second quicker than Renault's Daniel Ricciardo in third.

Asked if he was surprised at the gap, Hamilton replied: "Even for us it doesn't feel that great out there, to be honest.

"The grip is poor, there is a lot of sliding around, so a bit surprised to see that gap. It must feel even worse for those that are behind, but the track will grip up and things might close up."

After finishing just over a quarter-of-a-second behind Bottas, reflecting on his day overall, Hamilton added: “I didn’t feel like I was particularly quick today.

"It didn’t start off very good. P1 was pretty poor. I had a lock up on the soft tyre and then went out on the hard tyre and completely destroyed the tyres, so P1 was scrap.

“Into P2, it started off a lot better but I was just a little bit down in the first and second sector but the last one was nice, so I haven’t put them all together yet. It’s a work in progress.

“There are just some things I need to improve on the driving side and set-up wise.”

Bottas, meanwhile, was left complaining of a twitchy car in the final sector which potentially compromised his quickest lap.

“Especially on the low fuel runs, I always struggled quite a bit with the rear end so that is something to look at there," said Bottas.

"It was more like a rally-driving style than an F1-driving style. I’m not sure it was the fastest way around.”

While Bottas has traditionally been strong on Friday, he has failed to maintain such pace going into the weekend but feels he has enough in hand on this occasion.

"Everything seems pretty strong," added Bottas. "As I said earlier, there is still quite a lot of time left on the table.

"Set up-wise I think sector one, sector two feels really good, and sector three the car is still a bit too nervous. If we can get it right I’m sure there’s lap time.”

Before you go...

Red Bull "in the fight" after day of downforce trials - Verstappen

Hamilton mistake hands Bottas Russian FP2 honours

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