Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Hamilton hoping for rain after tough start in Sochi

2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he hopes the forecast rain arrives in Sochi tomorrow following a difficult first day of practice for Mercedes.

The championship leader ended Friday almost eight-tenths of a second slower than pace-setter Max Verstappen and nearly half a second behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“I think we lose eight tenths of a second to the Ferraris or something on the straights,” said Hamilton after practice. “We’ve been improving but still they’re improving at a serious rate.

“So we’ve just been trying to figure out how we can improve the car. But it’s not an easy task.”

“I hope it’s going to be raining,” he added. “I heard it’s going to rain tomorrow.”

Current forecasts indicate a strong chance of thunderstorms throughout tomorrow, particularly in the morning. However the risk of rain during the race is considerably lower.

Hamilton is eager to see a wet race at Sochi Autodrom. “I think it’ll be a much more exciting race if it was wet,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever driven here in the rain as far as I am aware so it’ll make it pretty tricky.

“As a track it’s not that easy to overtake because all the corners are so fast. I can’t say it’s the best designed track to be honest just because you carry so much speed through all the apexes of these corners you can’t follow.

“But you do have these long straight to try and make up for it and we’ve got DRS. But in the rain it would make it easier to follow because you often choose different lines.”

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16 comments on “Hamilton hoping for rain after tough start in Sochi”

  1. If anyone asks how important it is for a team to have a solid driver in their seat, point to Lewis, Max and Leclerc, especially Lewis. He (Lewis) has been the difference btw Ferrari and Mercedes championship campaigns in the last 3 years. Leclerc is also showing us that if Kimi had stayed at Ferrari this year, Lewis would probably have won the last 3 races, easy.

    Imagine Valtteri being the lead driver for Mercedes for the last 3 years (cos you know, anyone can win in a sliver arrow), Seb would be a 7 time world champion. Drivers are probably the most important part of the car when all things are equal

    1. @lums Exactly. People tend to overlook this.

      Also they say it’s easy to win if you are driving the fastest car, but so many races Vettel crashed/spun when he was actually in the fastest car in 2018 (races like Baku, Hungary, Monza, Germany). Same for Verstappen, why didn’t Verstappen win in China or Monaco where Ricciardo did win, or Brazil.

      1. well said!

        and like they say, you have to be in the race and finish it to win it. Lewis does that better than the most and consistently ! and thats why he wins the champ.

    2. Leclerc can’t really be considered a solid driver yet. We need to see that he can do it for longer. He is still doign some very risky moves and at the start of the year, they had bad consequences. Even Versappen and Hamilton have had their poor races this year.

      1. The only thing he needs is more experience.
        Considering this is only his second season and the first in the highest pressure seat in F1, he has been fantastic, adjusting quicker than Max.
        Alonso labelled him a super star and he knows talent.
        He’ll be fine.

  2. While I hate to see Lewis and Merc so downbeat, they can totally afford it – (bar unexpected retirements) Lewis can finish 5th at each race and still win WDC with a single FLAP.

    Merc has also enough cushion to resist any permutations in top 3 at each race.

    I wonder if Merc hasn’t switched focus to 2020 a bit sooner than rivals…

    1. Bottas is probably even more downbeat, as Sochi has always been a track were he edged Lewis. As for the championship, HAM already won, no question anymore.

    2. @dallein I was wondering about the focus too, but is the change for 2020 that important?

      Besides it’s mostly the extra power from the powertrain that Ferrari seem to have which allows them to keep the power up for much further up the straight than others. They just gain so much time on the straights that it doesn’t matter that Mercedes and Red Bull do seem to have the better chassis.

      1. I think it’s natural for Mercedes to solidify its position and bulletproof its reliability while shifting much of its efforts to the 2020 car. Unless Mercedes shocks us again, 2020 might see Mercedes as the THIRD best team.

      2. Although I can’t believe ferrari won singapore with such a bad chassis, they must have improved it, straights don’t matter anywhere near as much there; mercedes 3rd best team in 2020? I wouldn’t put my hand on fire about that, I think we can only safely say mercedes had the 2nd best car for the first part of 2018 in the hybrid era, and then eventually ended up pretty even or slightly better as the season ended, apart from that they always had an edge, be it small or big.

  3. Wow, this is intriguing.

    If it’s dry I can’t see past a Ferrari win, although I’d like to see speed trap data, how quick is that Honda now?

    Leclerc seems quicker than Vettel, but he did last race, Bottas seems quicker than Hamilton as usual at this track, will Mercedes use team orders again?

    Max is going to be on the podium I expect and possibly can win it, tyre wear could be crucial.

    If it’s wet then a Hamilton/Verstappen scrap seems likely.

    Really anyone of 5 drivers could likely win this one……………..

  4. So we’ve just been trying to figure out how we can improve the car.

    A better engine?

  5. True, no session has taken place under wet-weather conditions so far in this circuit’s history.

    1. There was a wet FP session in 2015 I think but although I seem to remember a damp race (or part of one) I can’t find any video.

  6. Lewis started being ridiculous again. Ferrari gaining 0,8sec on straights he had said. Someone must ask this joker than if you are so fast on curves, how RBR gaining over one second against you over a lap. Complete comedy.

    1. Unless he wants to imply the honda engine is now that good, which I doubt it’s even mercedes level.

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