Lewis Hamilton admitted he was pushing too hard when he lost control of his car on his final qualifying lap for the Russian Grand Prix and missed out on pole position.
Hamilton ended up 0.145s shy of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ pole lap — the first time he has been outqualified by Bottas since the German Grand Prix in July when he had a hydraulics issue. His first attempt in Q3 had been just 0.004s off Bottas, but he said he knew his teammate would improve and he would have to push extra hard to match him. An uncharacteristic mistake in Turn 7 followed and saw Hamilton run wide on the exit.
“The first lap in Q3 was down 0.3s in the middle sector, but I was up in the first and last [sectors],” he said. “So I knew I had to push quite a lot because I knew he would also gain time.
“So rather than another 0.3s, it was 0.5s I had to improve and I just over-egged it a little bit. I think I picked up a bit of dirt on my outside tyres and there was just less grip there for the next corner.”
Hamilton does not need a win in Russia as much as his title rival Sebastian Vettel, who starts in third, but said he would still push for victory.
“I think all of our goals is to try and win this race. It’s a difficult track to overtake. The start will be an interesting one, and after that it’s really about strategy, which we’re all pretty much on the same. We’ll just give it everything we’ve got.”