Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton fears his rivals will be able to breeze past in the opening stages of the Russian Grand Prix due to the strong tow he’ll provide on the run into Turn 2 and his offset strategy,
On Saturday, Hamilton secured his seventh pole position of the 2020 season, finishing the session ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
However, he will take the start on the Soft tyre compared to the Mediums for Verstappen and Bottas, meaning he will have to do more tyre management to extend his opening stint.
With the slipstream affect being as strong as ever this year due to the increase in drag on the straights, Hamilton sees himself being vulnerable throughout the opening stages of the race.
“It’s not a good place to start at all and I think this year you’re seeing our cars are more draggy, there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years,” Hamilton said.
“I generally expect one of these two [Verstappen and Bottas] to come flying by at some point. So, I think I’m just going to focus on my race and just try to run the fastest race I can.
“Obviously I’m on the worst tyre to start on the race but generally it’s a good tyre to do an actual start.
“But it has the biggest degradation, ten times more than any other tyre, I think it is. So that’s going to be a struggle.”
Hamilton also pondered if he will be forced onto a two-stop strategy, but doesn’t see an advantage due to the time lost in the pit lane.
“I don’t know if that puts me onto a two-stop, I don’t know, unlikely because the pit lane is too slow,” he said.
“So I’m just going to have to nurse those tyres as far as I can.
“These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away [so I need] to figure out if there’s a different kind of race I can do to keep my position.”