Lewis Hamilton says he had one of the worst qualifying sessions he can remember, despite qualifying on pole position for the Russian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has looked comfortably quickest throughout the race weekend in Russia and was trying to qualify with both cars on the medium tire in Q2 but Hamilton saw a lap time deleted and then his second attempt cancelled by a red flag right at the end of his lap. With only two minutes remaining, Hamilton used soft tires to make sure he progressed — which means he will start on the softer compound while teammate Valtteri Bottas is on mediums directly behind him in P3.
Pole position was never guaranteed 🤯
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 26, 2020
“The session was… oh, it was one of the worst qualifying sessions; it was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in your mouth the whole way. The first problem, I think I got the time taken away. It’s the first time I’ve gone wide there the whole weekend. I wanted to stay out and do another lap and get a banker, but they said come in and get new tires and then the red flag came out.
“It was a real risk once we got out on that next tire at the end. Ultimately, I’m starting on the soft tire, which is not good. It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole, with the draggier cars we have this year. So, undoubtedly I’m most likely to get dragged past tomorrow and both the cars I’m racing against — they are both on the medium tomorrow, so definitely it’s going to make it hard to win the race.
“But nonetheless I’m going to stay positive and try to figure out how I can navigate my way through — get a good start maybe, and we’ll see.”
Hamilton is already thinking of different approaches he will take to his race if he doesn’t gain an advantage off the line by starting on a softer compound than Max Verstappen and Bottas behind.
“I’m just going to focus on my race and just try to run the fastest race I can. Obviously I’m on the worst tire to start on the race — generally it’s a good tire to do an actual start but it has the biggest degradation, 10 times more than any other tire, I think it is. So that’s going to be a struggle.
“I don’t know if that puts me onto a two-stop. Unlikely, because the pit lane is too slow, so I’m just going to have to nurse those tires as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away, so going to sit down tonight to try to figure out if there’s a different kind of race I can do tomorrow to keep my position.”