Lewis Hamilton could have been forced to retire from the Russian Grand Prix had a brewing technical issue during the race had not stabilised enough to get him to the end.

On another trying weekend for the defending champion, Hamilton's difficult start to the 2016 season continued in Russia when he suffered an ERS failure in qualifying for the second event in succession, forcing Mercedes into an entire rebuild overnight.

Starting tenth on the grid, a quick getaway would see him quickly make up positions early on, rising to second place by the close of the pit-stop window. Leaving Hamilton 12secs behind Nico Rosberg, he began making in-roads with a charging second stint that would see him get the margin down to less than eight seconds.

However, he would be forced to back off when he was informed of dropping water pressure by his engineer, leaving him 25sec adrift at the finish line.

Though Hamilton was frustrated to have his charge nixed by more problems, Mercedes F1 boss Wolff - who believes a 'leak' was to blame for the alarm - suggested he was lucky to reach the finish altogether

"The guys had a tremendously tough job overnight to take the car apart and put the car back together. Because we didn't identify the root cause of the problem yet it was important to diligently put everything together.

"During the race, after the pit stop, we saw a sudden drop in water pressure which was continuing to fall. That looked like a terminal failure.

"We don't know the root cause yet, probably somewhere in the assembly or somewhere on the chassis side -- that remains to be seen. It stabilised at a certain stage and then Lewis carried the car over the finish line."



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