Hamilton, Vettel both downplay favourite tag

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton, Vettel both downplay favourite tag

Lewis Hamilton said he had to do "qualifying laps every lap" to stick with Ferrari at the Russian GP.

Lewis Hamilton has denied that Mercedes are the favourites to take the win at the Russian Grand Prix despite winning every race at the Sochi Autodrom since the first in 2014.

Mercedes have a perfect record at the Russian track, however, unlike in previous years when they have arrived at Sochi on the back of wins at Spa, Monza or Singapore, this year they haven’t won since the summer break.

Instead it has been Ferrari who have come to the fore, taking three on the trot including three pole positions.

The Scuderia’s rise has led Hamilton to proclaim that Mercedes are no longer the favourites.

“I don’t think we are going to be favourites at any of the next six races but that doesn’t mean we can’t win,” he told Reuters.

“We know how fast Ferrari have been on the straights, in the past three races, we have been stuck behind and not able to get by.

“At the moment I would say these last three races, we’ve probably not extracted 100 percent on the weekend and that’s what we need to get back to. Extracting the maximum.

“I can squeeze more out of the car, more out of myself. I haven’t done a perfect lap yet this season.

“Remaining as the leaders is not an easy task so it is understandable that we will have dips.”

But while the championship leader has downplayed Mercedes’ prospects, so too has Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari’s.

The German reckons it is “wrong” to believe that Ferrari will be strong everywhere just because they have had three good races in succession.

He told F1.com: “I think overall it is definitely heading in the right direction, but it would be wrong to think that now because we’ve won on two different types of tracks, that we can win everywhere.

“I think Mercedes still have been in a position to win every race in a way this year, so they are the ones to beat and they are the benchmark.

“That’s where we want to be and ideally ahead of that, and not just there. There’s still a lot of work in front of us but it also shows that if things are going in the right way, it doesn’t take much to click.”

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