Lewis Hamilton thinks he had the pace to win the Russian Grand Prix up until his Mercedes W07 picked up a water leak and the Briton had to settle for second place behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Lining up 10th on the Sochi grid after suffering an ERS issue in qualifying, Hamilton managed to stay out of trouble through the chaotic first couple of corners to move up to fifth.
The 31-year-old quickly gained another position at the re-start that followed the early Safety Car period, taking Williams’ Felipe Massa at turn two. Hamilton then became embroiled in a three-way fight with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
It took a couple of brave moves for the Mercedes man to dispatch both Finns and start chasing down Rosberg in front.
“With Kimi, I don’t know if he was expecting me to overtake there, which was great,” Hamilton said. “The second one on Valtteri, I was quite far back but he did not seem to defend, so it was quite easy.
The triple world champion managed to cut the gap to the lead to 7.7s. when he was informed over team radio that he had to nurse a water pressure issue.
“The car felt good,” Hamilton further commented. “At that time, I was lapping a little bit quicker than Nico so I was chipping away at the gap, which was quite big but it did come down from 13 seconds.
“There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I could have won it. I had the pace but then I had a problem with the engine again so I had to back off. I wasn’t going full throttle down the straight, just trying to look after it.
“I had no indications and did not really know what the issue was and whether or not I was going to make it home or not.”
Hamilton is now trailing Rosberg by 43 points in the Drivers’ standings. The Briton has yet to taste victory since winning his third title back in Austin last year.
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