Lewis Hamilton has conceded he slacked off in Q3 at Sochi as he threw away a potential 80th career pole position.
A mere 0.004 seconds separated Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton after the first hot laps in Q3, before the Brit was a whopping three tenths up through the first sector on his second attempt.
But, with Ferrari down on pace and unable to capitalise, Hamilton was still able to secure Mercedes’ fifth 1-2 start of the 2018 season.
“I don’t know where it really got away from me in Q3, but I struggled a little bit, and Valtteri obviously picked up quite a bit of pace,” Hamilton said after qualifying.
“I think middle sector was really where I was slacking, but anyways it’s great to have a 1-2.”
Then asked by Motorsport.com whether the second sector was his ultimate downfall, he said: “Yeah, I think the middle sector I haven’t been too bad through qualifying – Q1 was really good, and then Q2 wasn’t so great.
“Just generally throughout the weekend it’s been a bit up and down through that sector, but I’ve been quick in the first and third.
“The first lap in Q3, down three tenths in the middle sector but I was quickest in the first and last.
“So anyway I did push quite a lot because I knew also he would gain time, so it was not three tenths, it was like half a second I needed to improve.
“I just over-egged it a little bit. I think I picked up a little bit of dirt on my outside tyres and then there was less grip there for the next corner.”
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But Hamilton still praised his team-mate for getting the job done on his side of the garage.
“Big congratulations to Valtteri, he did a great job in Q3,” Hamilton said.
“It’s been a really good weekend so far, honestly, really can’t complain.”