Hamilton denies Mercedes sandbagging

Lewis Hamilton has hit back at claims Mercedes is sandbagging in Russia.

Before going fastest in Sochi practice, championship leader Sebastian Vettel had said the circuit obviously suits Mercedes better than Ferrari.

He then accused Mercedes of having "misled" the pecking order.

"We've never done that intentionally," Mercedes' Hamilton responded. "There's no benefit to doing that.

"We were just trying to find the right balance in the car, but today it was not easy," he added on Friday.

As for why Vettel would accuse him of sandbagging, Hamilton answered: "I don't know. Maybe he's just trying to draw attention to us.

"But the reality is that Ferrari is just very fast."

Ferrari may be fast, but the Italian team has headed into the Sochi weekend under a cloud about the reliability of its turbo unit. Vettel, for instance, is already using the third out of a maximum of four turbos for 2017.

"I don't think it's a great concern for us," the German insisted.

"Of course we didn't plan it, but I think the other two that we have can still be used. Surely we have our reasons, but as I understand it is not a big problem."

(GMM)

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