Lewis Hamilton is confident that his Mercedes team will suffer no repeat of the tyre issues that scuppered its Singapore Grand Prix bid, despite Pirelli providing the same soft and supersoft compounds for this weekend's race in Russia.
Hamilton's optimism is based, however, on numbers crunched by the team prior to practice as both FP1 and FP2 sessions were blighted by conditions beyond its control, meaning that there was no dry tyre running at all on day one.
Even though the rain did not arrive until just before the second 90 minutes of running, a diesel spillage prior to FP1 cost the teams the first half an hour of track time and left the surface so tricky that the majority ran intermediates throughout. Hamilton finished seventh fastest, 1.3secs slower than pacesetter Nico Hulkenberg, but admitted that there was little benefit to doing much running.
“I didn't [go out on dry tyres], but I don't have any concerns [about the compounds on offer],” he confirmed, “Everyone's in the same boat, but I hope tomorrow is dry.
“You sit and wait,” he said of his programme for the day, “You watch and hope that the track is going to get better… Actually, I have to say that, today, we probably learned more than last time. We went out and tested a wing and got some information just from one single lap, so we did get something, but in terms of myself, there was not much to learn from today [except that] it's cold, it's raining – and it's nicer when the sun's out!”
With Mercedes struggling mightily on the softest Pirellis in Singapore, Hamilton will be hoping that there is no repeat this weekend, but admits that, without being able to run the tyres on day one, there was no way of knowing exactly the situation he will find himself in for the rest of the weekend.
“There's no way they could [give me reassurance that there would be no repeat of Singapore tyre problems] as we've not been out,” he emphasised, “Obviously, as I said, yesterday they did all the analysis they could do so we feel pretty confident about the weekend, but we'll find out tomorrow.”
The wet running, limited as it was, still provided useful information for the world champion going forward, particularly if forecasts of further wet weather on race day prove correct.
“We're still getting information about clutch performance, torque delivery and stuff like that,” he noted, “And we do have wet races sometimes, so we have to learn about getting away on wet starts which is a little bit different to the dry.
“It's that type of surface where the water just stands – it doesn't drain away at all – so it looks like, if it does rain, it will take a long time to dry. It was really slippery out there and it's not really a whole lot of fun. I prefer it in the dry...”