Lewis Hamilton says he has 'no doubt' that victory in Russia was within his grasp before a water pressure issue forced him to nurse his Mercedes to the finish.
Hamilton made rapid progress from 10th on the grid and was second, 13 seconds behind his race-leading team mate Nico Rosberg, after the first and only round of pit stops. The Briton soon reduced that to around seven seconds, at one stage taking one second a lap from Rosberg’s lead, only for his charge to be halted by technical gremlins.
"There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I could win it," said Hamilton, who went on to finish second.
"I had the pace but I had a problem with the engine again, so I had to back off."
Hamilton stressed that his string of technical issues – including a power unit problem in qualifying which left him unable to take part in Q3 – had not shaken his faith in Mercedes, adding: "Firstly I’d like to thank the guys who flew over from the factory last night, and my mechanics who worked from 2am to get my car ready, because without them I wouldn’t even have got to this point.
"It happened, I just had to try and nurse it home and I’m grateful I finished. We just need to do a better job. It seems to be my side of the garage having a hard time, but I have absolutely every confidence and faith in them.
"We need to work hard in the background. We did 800km a day in testing and the car was seen as bulletproof…"
Hamilton’s fightback allowed him to limit the damage of Rosberg’s seventh straight victory – the German now sits on 100 points, with Hamilton second in the championship on 57.