Wolff hoping for Hamilton fightback from compromising race strategy
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff is hoping "the best overtaker in the field" can put up a fight in the Russian Grand Prix after being forced to place Lewis Hamilton in a compromising position for the Russian Grand Prix.
Although Hamilton claimed the 96th pole position of his Formula 1 career at the Sochi Autodrom, following up with what would be a record-equalling 91st victory is far from guaranteed.
Hamilton will have to start the race on the soft tyre, forced upon him following a crash from Sebastian Vettel towards the end of Q2 that aborted his flying lap on the medium compound and left him at the bottom of the standings without a time.
In order to get him into the top 10, Mercedes had no choice but to send Hamilton back out on softs, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas made it through on the more durable mediums on which they will start.
"We put him on the soft which has compromised him on the strategy for tomorrow, which was a necessary safeguard to make sure he could make it into Q3," explained Wolff.
"It's clearly not the optimum strategy because after some laps the soft is going to suffer and that means it compromises your whole race because you probably need to pit into traffic, and that's not a great situation.
"But we know Lewis is the best overtaker in the field and I hope he can make his way back because he was the quickest driver on track today."
Wolff has conceded to one "hairy" moment in Q2 when Hamilton made it across the start-finish line to begin his flying lap by just 1.25secs.
Vettel's crash brought out the red flag and left just two minutes and 15 seconds on the clock for the field to complete an outlap when the session restarted, and with Hamilton towards the rear of a long line of cars.
But a calm Wolff added: "I wasn't nervous at all. I've seen worse situations. Generally, I know that if somebody can pull himself out then it's Lewis, and that's why I was pretty relaxed.
"Obviously there were moments when he crossed the line one second before it. It [the lights] turned to red and that was hairy but I didn't feel in any way whatsoever impacted by it, not nervous."
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