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Hamilton rues Red Bull effect on Sprint Shootout result

The Mercedes driver will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint from sixth after failing to improve on his final attempt in SQ3.

Lewis Hamilton believes his Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint Shootout was hampered by a lack of slipstreaming on his final lap having fallen too far behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. The Mercedes driver had positioned himself behind the two RB19s at the end of the inaugural eight-minute SQ3 session used to determine the top 10 for the 100km sprint later in the day. But with the pace of the Red Bull's too hot to keep up with, Hamilton was unable to capitalise on the tow created by Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen and ended the session sixth fastest, almost three-tenths slower than teammate George Russell who qualified fourth. "The sessions were going really well, actually," said Hamilton. "SQ1 and SQ2 were going well, just my last lap... I struggled with the rear end on the last lap and I didn't get a tow at the end, the Red Bulls pulled too far ahead. A bit unfortunate but I gave it everything and that is all you can ever ask for. "It was fun, qualifying is always fun so it just felt like another qualifying session." Hamilton will be able to try and make up positions in the sprint, with Russell and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who has struggled for pace up to this point, no doubt on his radar. On his prospects for the first race of the weekend, the seven-time World Champion conceded: "It is only 17 laps so not a massive amount you can do in that time, but I hope we can get some sort of race."

Finishing the first ever Sprint Shootout in P4 and P6. 👊 All 👀 on the @F1 Sprint. pic.twitter.com/fYfG8AlsEv — Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 29, 2023

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