Lewis Hamilton predicts 'close fight' with Ferrari in Russian GP
Hamilton starts between Leclerc and Vettel for the second time in a week, but this time with a different strategy; Watch the Russian GP live at 12.10pm on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event
By James Galloway in Sochi
Last Updated: 02/10/19 3:55pm
Lewis Hamilton is hopeful Mercedes can put up a "good fight" to Ferrari as they bid to put an end to their rivals' winning run in Sunday's Russian GP.
For the second race in the space of seven days, Hamilton starts between polesitter Charles Leclerc and third-placed Sebastian Vettel on the grid - but this time the Ferrari and Mercedes cars are on different starting tyre strategies.
While Leclerc and Vettel will start on the more conventional soft tyres - the fastest available, but which will require an earlier pit stop - Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who is fourth, are locked into the more durable medium compound.
"I think the team did a great job to put us on the mediums and naturally from the two tyres there's obviously a delta and the softer the tyre the better the start. So it will be a little bit tough off the start tomorrow," explained Hamilton.
"But even if we were in the lead, if we were on pole for example, they are just so fast on the straights by the time we get to Turn One, which is the little kink, they blast past us with the jet fuel or whatever it is.
"So, yeah, it is about strategy, which is why we are on a different tyre and I hope that we can utilise that and keep the pressure on. If you've seen the couple of races we've had we've been right with them but I'm hoping tomorrow we can really give them a good fight."
When's the Russian GP on Sky?
All the key TV times to watch the entire Russian GP weekend from Sochi live on Sky Sports F1.
Although Ferrari are chasing a fourth successive victory since the summer break, Mercedes have run them consistently close on race day.
Leclerc won by less than one second at Spa and Monza, and then Hamilton was challenging the Monegasque strongly last Sunday in Singapore before the Englishman lost ground in the pit stops.
But key to Hamilton's hopes here will be at least maintaining position off the start - and challenge heightened by Ferrari's greater straight-line speed and a long curved run to what is effectively the Sochi Autodrom's first true corner, Turn Two.
"I don't know how many metres it's [medium tyres] worth but definitely we will be slightly down on the start compared to them. I have to try and get the best start I can possibly do," the world champion told Sky F1.
"And then depending on where we slot in, if [Vettel's] right behind me, or if he gets a toe from Leclerc he'll be sailing past me because they're so fast on the straights, it's quite impressive.
"We just stay optimistic and we'll do our best. I'm going to try and get to Turn One in first, someway, somehow."
Russian GP: Provisional Grid
1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
4. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
5. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
7. Lando Norris, McLaren
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas
9. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
10. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
11. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
12. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
14. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
15. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
16. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso
17. George Russell, Williams
18. Alexander Albon, Red Bull
19. Robert Kubica, Williams
20. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso