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Hamilton braced for Russian GP "struggle" after overcoming qualifying "panic"

Hamilton braced for Russian GP "struggle" after overcoming qualifying "panic"

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Hamilton braced for Russian GP "struggle" after overcoming qualifying "panic"

Hamilton braced for Russian GP "struggle" after overcoming qualifying "panic"

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Russian Grand Prix bracing himself for "a struggle" although appreciates his situation could have been far worse after enduring a nerve-shredding qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom.

Hamilton stood on the brink of failing to make it into the top-10 shootout following a crash involving Sebastian Vettel had brought out the red flags with just over two minutes remaining, leaving the six-time F1 champion without a time on the board.

Once the session restarted, Hamilton then made it over the start-finish line to start his flying lap with 1.25secs to spare, ultimately reaching Q3 and claiming the 96th pole position of his Formula 1 career.

"It was one of the hardest qualifying sessions I can remember in that everything was just so rushed, there was panic and just all sorts going on," said Hamilton.

"And then obviously timing once you’re out there, and then just having to calm myself down and find my centre, calm my heart down and wanting to deliver in Q3.

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"I’m super grateful to everyone for just about keeping their cool, and it could have been a lot, lot worse. I could be out of the top 10, so I’m really grateful I go to compete."

Hamilton, though, is compromised by the fact he starts on the soft tyre compared to the medium runners behind him in Red Bull's Max Verstappen and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while he is set to be out-dragged on the long run to the first major corner.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has already stated that Hamilton faces a tough ask to secure what would be a record-equalling 91st career victory.

"I generally expect one of these two [Verstappen or Bottas] to come flying by at some point," assessed Hamilton.

"Obviously, I’m on the worst tyre to start the race. Generally, it’s a good tyre to do a start but it has the biggest degradation, 10 times more than any other tyre, so that’s going to be a struggle.

"I don’t know if that puts me on to a two-stop, 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 I'm going to try to figure out if there’s a different kind of race I can do to keep my position."

Before you go...

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Mon 30 Nov

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