Polesitter Hamilton says Sochi win will be 'hard' after 'horrible' qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton believes victory will be "hard" after a "horrible" qualifying despite claiming pole for the Russian Grand Prix.

Based on the results, you'd think it was a stroll in Sochi Olympic Park for the six-time world champion after he secured his 69th career pole and eighth this season.

But Q2 was almost a disaster for Hamilton after his first lap was deleted and his second run was scuppered at the very last moment as Sebastian Vettel's crash brought out the red flags.

That left Lewis in 15th place with 2m15s on the clock to complete an out lap when the session restarted, and he would cross the line with just 1.1s remaining to start the lap that ultimately put him fourth and into Q3.

“The session was hard,” Hamilton said in parc ferme. “It was one of the worst qualifying sessions, it was horrible.

“I had my heart in my mouth the whole way. I had the time taken away obviously, which is the first time I’ve gone wide there the whole weekend.

“I wanted to stay out and do another lap just to get the banker but they said to come in for a new set of tyres and then the red flag came out. That was the real risk at the end.”

Once past that scare, it was plain sailing in Q3, as Hamilton secured P1 by half a second over Max Verstappen in second.

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But in order to secure that top 10 time, Hamilton has compromised his first stint to the race on Sunday and also faces having to hold off the Dutchman and teammate Valtteri Bottas on the long run to Turn 2.

"Ultimately I’m starting on the soft tyre, which is not good,” he admitted.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole. We have draggier cars this year, so I am most likely to get dragged past here tomorrow.

“And both the cars I’m racing against are on the Mediums tomorrow, so definitely will make it hard to win this race.”