Hamilton ‘incredibly disappointed’ in himself

Lewis Hamilton took full responsibility for the mistake that put him on the back foot in qualifying at the Russian Grand Prix and saw a provisional pole position turn into fourth on the grid.

Hamilton was leading qualifying in the closing minutes as the track started to dry, prompting drivers to make the switch from the intermediate wet tyre to the dry tyre. As he returned to the pits to make that change, Hamilton slid into the wall and damaged the front wing of his car.

The time it took Mercedes to change his front wing, and briefly roll Hamilton out of the pit box so teammate Valtteri Bottas could have a fresh set of tyres fitted, ultimately left him with just one chance to set a lap on the soft tyre.

Hamilton was unable to get temperature into the tyres, which saw Lando Norris claim a stunning first pole ahead of Carlos Sainz and George Russell.

When asked after the session if the collision with the wall was just a case of cold tyres, Hamilton said: “No, just a mistake from myself. Obviously incredibly disappointed in myself.

“Up until then I was really in the zone. I’m really sorry to all the team that are here and the ones back at the factory because that’s not what you expect from a champion. It is what it is. I’ll do my best tomorrow to try and rectify it.”

Speaking about the lap on the soft tyre at the end, he said: “Oh, it was horrible at the end! Very poor grip, very slippery when you don’t have any temp.

“I was losing temp during the lap. Twice in the wall, that’s very rare for me.”

Hamilton and Mercedes were unable to comment on whether the impact with the wall had left the No.44 car with any lingering damage.

Team boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton’s mistake made no difference to the fact he was only able to get one lap on the dry tyres at the end.

“You know there are these situations where they are really unfortunate,” Wolff said.

“It’s not even that we made a mistake or the driver’s contributed to it.

“We were the first cars out in the session and that’s why we were in a sequence where either we would have aborted our last two runs on the intermediate to get two soft runs in or like we played it safe, finished the lap, which we did and at the end, even without Lewis’ kiss on the wall we wouldn’t have been able to do two laps.”

Hamilton will start fourth, with Mercedes teammate Bottas down in seventh, but Wolff is confident of both cars finishing on the podium.

“I think with Lewis we can win it and this should be the aim if everything goes well, and Valtteri, when he starts seventh there are other considerations we have at the moment. If he starts seventh, easily back on the podium that must be the target.”

It seemed to be a squandered opportunity for Hamilton, with title rival and championship leader Max Verstappen starting Sunday’s race from 20th on the grid after Red Bull made an engine change on his car.

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