Lewis Hamilton: “I think I had the pace to fight with Kimi”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Credit: Steve Etherington

Lewis Hamilton managed to hide his dismay following his troubles in the Russian Grand Prix to congratulate team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the Finn’s first ever Formula 1 win.

Hamilton was full of praise for his new comrade who may have only joined Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the start of the season but has hit the road running.

A big congratulations to Valtteri,” he said. “He did an exceptional job today and he really deserves it.

“He’s been fast all weekend and he’s done such a good job for the team. He’s a fantastic teammate to work with and it’s such an amazing feeling winning your first Grand Prix.”

Hamilton had struggled throughout the weekend, failing to get to grips with the ultra-soft tyres and suffering from overheating during the race, to the extent that he visibly lifted and slowed his lap times down.

In the end he finished a lonely fourth.

For me it was a very tough weekend,” he continued. “I just wasn’t quick enough.

“I’ve never had cooling issues like that before but it meant I was out of the race from the get-go.”

Even with his below-par performance in qualifying that left him fourth on the grid, the Brit believed he could have fought it out with Kimi Raikkonen for the final step on the podium if he hadn’t suffered from the high temperatures.

The only plus point that he could take from the race was that he at least finished in the points, and Bottas’ win at least dampened Sebastian Vettel’s haul.

I think I had the pace to fight with Kimi, but the car just kept overheating,” he added. “Ultimately, if I had better pace then I would have been further up.

“At least I got some good points for the team. I’m just hopeful that I can pick up the pace at the next race.”