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Hamilton braced for ‘tricky’ first stint on ultrasofts

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton says he expects his opening stint in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix to be “tricky”, with the Mercedes man having to start on the high-degradation ultrasoft tyre.

F1 drivers must line up on the grid with the compound they used to set their fastest times in Q2. While Mercedes sent both Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg on the purple-marked tyre, rivals Ferrari and Red Bull opted to go on the harder, red-banded supersoft compound.

Quizzed on his team’s strategy, Hamilton initially said: “I just did what I was told. Our strategists understand the ultrasoft is the better tyre. We had the supersoft available.

“I’m assuming they saw the Ferrari were going out [on the supersoft] and thought we might try and go out and see if we can do a time even though there is a time delta between the two.”

Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg could improve on their ultrasoft flyer as rain started to appear in the latest stages of Q2.

When it was confirmed to the Briton that the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers would indeed start on the supersoft tyre, the triple world champion replied:

“That’s quite a bad thing then. I think the ultrasoft is not a good tyre for the race. I mean it’s going to be a struggle to get a lot of laps on it. The strategy will be interesting tomorrow.

“Obviously, they’ll start behind so hopefully I’ll have a bit of an advantage at the start from the ultrasoft tyre. In practice, my tyres lasted for four laps. I think for Nico, it latest eight or nine laps. It’s definitely going to be tricky but we did the best we can.”

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