Lewis Hamilton had a big opportunity to get pole position at Russia, with his main title rival Max Verstappen due to start from the back of the grid after Red Bull changed various components of his Honda power unit. But, as it turned out, mixed conditions in the final part of qualifying meant a switch from the intermediates to the slicks was necessary. The Briton charged into the pit lane for what was intended to be a quick pit stop, but ended up losing grip and clouting the barrier at pit entry, breaking his front wing.
When asked if the incident was because of sub-optimal tire temperatures, Hamilton was quick to dismiss it, conceding it was his mistake.
"I’m really sorry for all the team that are here and back at the factory, because obviously that’s not what you expect from a champion."
After the mishap, the seven-time champion returned to the track with a new front wing and new soft compound tires, only to have another coming together with a tire wall, at the exit of turn 16 on his last flying lap.
"I was losing temperature in the lap, and then twice in the wall, that’s very rare from me", he added.
"These things are sent to try us, and I feel terrible right now. But I'll turn it into a positive, and try to do the best."
A three-time winner at Sochi, Hamilton doesn’t feel he and his team will have it easy on Sunday, even with Verstappen nowhere to be seen, as he’ll start the Russian Grand Prix behind Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and George Russell:
"The guys up front have got good pace, and it definitely won't be easy."
The Mercedes team has some work to do to ensure his W12 is fit for purpose on Sunday, he reckons.
"I'm just going to say my prayers and hope that the car can be fixed, and it's hopefully OK for tomorrow."