“And then just a bunch of things, like obviously we had to let people past, so we had to keep going off line onto the wet lines. I mean, it wasn’t ideal. And I’m just now putting all my energy towards tomorrow. I’m just hoping that the car is okay.
“Just looking at both of the incidents, the pitlane one, of course it wasn’t perfect, but relatively light touches. And the second one super, super light. So the second one is not an issue. And so far, they’re saying they think it’s okay, so they’ll do all the checks tonight. Obviously, the car is built to withhold a lot of force through all these corners. So those little taps hopefully haven’t derailed us.”
It’s easy to suggest that Hamilton is under pressure in the World Championship race, and that such mistakes result from that sense of urgency. He denies that’s the case.
“It’s really nothing to do with pressure, honestly,” he said. “It really wasn’t a pressure scenario. It’s literally just mistakes do happen. Basically I came into the pits, I knew that I didn’t have a huge amount of time. And I was attacking, I was just trying to get through the pit lane as quick as possible, because I knew that I was gonna need as much time on track as possible.
“In the previous laps, previous times coming in the pitlane, we could take it really quite slowly. I thought the track was drying and the grip was quite good, and came in and just took it a little bit quicker than normal, and just lost the back end, and just slid into the wall. So yes, of course embarrassing, disappointed in myself, but shit happens. We all make mistakes.
“And of course, it’s not what you would expect a World Champion to do. But the problem when you have the successes that I have, anything but perfection, it feels like a long way off. But I’m only human. My dad called me afterwards, we just talked about it, and you just move on. Tomorrow I’ll get my racing head back on, back focused, and hopefully bring a good race.”
It will be fascinating to see how the start and first lap unfold. The guys ahead of Hamilton, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and George Russell, all have much to gain and nothing to lose – although the last named is well aware that contact with his future team mate won’t go down too well. The bottom line is that Hamilton will just have to go for it.
“I’m fighting for a championship, I’m chasing a championship, and I’m in a slightly different position to the people around me. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be racing hard. There’s just a balance that you have to try and have. In the past I have been relatively good I think with that balance of risk, so I should be okay.”
On paper Sochi should have been an easy one-two for Mercedes, as indeed was the case with Monza – that’s certainly how Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner sees it. Having failed to take advantage in Italy it’s logical to assume that Mercedes and Hamilton have to do so today, especially with Verstappen at the back. However Lewis insists that the team doesn’t see it that way.