Valtteri Bottas believes he and Lewis Hamilton can still inflict heavy damage on Red Bull in the fight for this year's F1 constructors' title following a missed opportunity in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Bottas will start from fourth and seventh on the Sochi Autodrom grid as a delay in switching from intermediate to slick tyres cost the duo the chance of an all-Mercedes front row.
Although Hamilton hit the wall lining the pit-lane entry and required a new front wing, which also hampered Bottas' own tyre change, that was not the defining factor.
Even with two clean stops, neither Hamilton nor Bottas would have had time to run for a pivotal second lap on soft tyres as track evolution proved critical in the closing stages.
Despite the lower-than-expected grid positions, Mercedes still has the opportunity to significantly increase its 18-point lead over Red Bull with Max Verstappen starting from the back of the grid and Sergio Perez ninth.
"It is a chance to get a lot more points than Red Bull," said Bottas.
"I really believe we can still fight for the win based on the pace we had in the long runs [in practice on Friday]. If it's a dry race, we'll be there or thereabouts."
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