Hamilton wary of Ferrari’s ‘jet-mode’
Lewis Hamilton was delighted to split Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in Russian GP qualifying, admitting that it "could be a lot worse" due to Ferrari's "jet-mode" power advantage on the straights.
Leclerc stormed to his fourth consecutive pole on Saturday, but Hamilton snatched a front-row grid slot from Vettel with a great final Q3 lap.
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"It was a tough qualifying session because these guys [Ferrari] have some crazy speeds on the straights," said Hamilton, whose Mercedes team used to be envied for their engine 'party mode' in qualifying.
"They go to another level. That party mode you spoke about us having, they have something else beyond that … jet mode."
Hamilton was not expecting to beat either of the Ferraris due to that power deficit, especially after Mercedes were struggling after Friday practice.
"I gave it absolutely everything I had at the end and the team did a great job just to tinker and push forwards," he said.
"I'm so glad it came together - I wasn't expecting to get on the front row, that's for sure. I'm really, really happy with it."
Leclerc beat Hamilton by 0.4s, though the Englishman edged out Vettel by a couple of hundredths.
Hamilton added to Sky F1: "It's been a good weekend. We've just continued to work and improve the car - the team's done a fantastic job in trying to understand and trying to progress.
"Yes, you finish the lap which felt great and then obviously we have that deficit to them but still, to split the Ferraris is always a good scenario for us.
"It's kind of cool ... you've got to be happy with a performance like that from the team. It could be a lot worse."
Wolff felt Hamilton "extracted everything" from the lap, and also praised the Mercedes team for gaining on Ferrari in other areas than the straights.
"The engineering team really made the most of the package this weekend but against seven, eight tenths on the straight there is only so much you can do," Wolff told Sky F1's Ted Kravitz.
"I'm really happy with the result."
RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID
1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull*
5. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
6. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
8. Lando Norris, McLaren
9. Romain Grosjean, Haas
10. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
11. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso*
12. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
13. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
15. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
16. Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo1:34.840
17. George RussellWilliams1:35.356
18. Robert KubicaWilliams1:36.474
19. Alexander Albon, Red Bull*
20. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso*
*5-place grid penalties
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission.