Lewis Hamilton says he did not expect Mercedes to be so far clear of the chasing pack at the Russian Grand Prix amid a lack of grip throughout Friday’s two practice sessions.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas ended both sessions atop the timesheets, holding an advantage of over one second to Daniel Ricciardo in the afternoon, who was in third.
A number of drivers were victim to the low-grip track surface during the day, with Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi hitting the wall during FP1.
Although Mercedes had struggles of its own, Hamilton admits he was perplexed to see the gap the World Champions had over its rivals.
“Even for us it doesn’t really feel that great out there,” Hamilton said. “The grip is poor, there’s a lot of sliding so I’m surprised to see that gap.
“It must be even worse for those behind. But the track will grip up and maybe it will close up tomorrow.”
Hamilton endured a difficult morning session after running into tyre difficulty, leaving him 19th in the standings.
However, the six-time World Champion was more satisfied with his afternoon run, despite feeling off the pace throughout the day.
“I didn’t feel like I was particularly quick today,” he said. “It didn’t start off particularly good and P1 was pretty poor.
“I had a lock-up in Turn 1 on the Soft tyre and then went out on the Hard tyre and completely destroyed the tyres. P1 was scrapped.
“P2 started off better, I’m just down a bit in the first and second sector, but the last one was nice.
“I haven’t put them all together yet and it’s a work in progress. There’s some things I need to improve from the driver’s side and set-up wise.”
Hamilton is chasing his 91st grand prix win this weekend, which would draw him level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.