F1 Russian GP: Ferrari, Red Bull steal march on ‘struggling’ Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes are playing catch-up at the Russian GP due to Ferrari and Red Bull’s “big progressions” – while Toto Wolff admits the Silver Arrows are “struggling to find the clues” to unlock their pace.

Mercedes, looking to avoid their first four-race drought since 2013 this weekend, is already on the back foot in Sochi following the first day of practice, with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen sharing the spoils in P1 and P2.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton finished fourth and fifth Practice One before ending up third and fourth in Practice Two but were 0.6s off the pace on the same tyre as their rivals in second practice.

“It’s been a day of discovery and exploring,” said Hamilton. “It started off not too bad and then it just didn’t really improve as with the others, who made some big progressions.

“We anticipated that we’re losing eight-tenths of a second to the Ferraris or something on the straights. Nonetheless, we’ve been improving but they are improving at a serious rate.

“We’ve just been figuring out how we can improve the car, but it’s not an easy task.”