Red Bull driver Verstappen did not actively participate in qualifying at the Autodrom in Sochi due to a penalty for an engine change that will see him start from the back of the grid.
Hamilton said on Friday it was important for Mercedes to capitalize on the opportunity in Russia, but the seven-time world champion missed pole position after a complicated qualifying end that left him fourth overall.
An error entering the pits to switch to slick tires saw Hamilton hit the wall and damage his front wing, resulting in a long wait for a new one to be fitted. Hamilton then spun again at the end of the session after struggling with cold tires.
But Hamilton dismissed the mistake due to any pressure in the tight title fight with Verstappen, who he lags five points at the top of the drivers’ championship.
“It’s really nothing to do with the pressure, honestly,” said Hamilton.
“It really wasn’t a pressure scenario. It’s literally fair [that] errors happen. “
Hamilton explained that the tight turnaround needed to switch from midsize to slick tires made him push harder as he entered the pit lane, because he “knew I was going to need as much time on the track as I did. possible”.
“It used to be when you came into the pit lane you could go really slow,” Hamilton said.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“The track was drying out and the grip was pretty good, and [I] went in and took it a bit faster than normal and just lost the back end and slipped into the wall.
“Yes, of course, embarrassingly, [I’m] disappointed in myself to have had it, but shit happens. We all make mistakes, and of course that’s not what you expect from a world champion. “
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton’s thoughts, saying the mistake had nothing to do with the title fight.
“I think it wasn’t the pressure today as it was clear Max was starting from behind,” Wolff said.
“Why it happened, I can’t say. I don’t think it was championship pressure. And he wasn’t the only one that happened to.”
Hamilton will aim to secure his 100th Grand Prix victory since 4th on the grid on Sunday, and noted that his record levels of success make such mistakes as qualifying more notable.
“The problem with having the success that I have is that anything but perfection seems a long way off,” Hamilton said.
“I’m just a human. My dad called me afterwards, and we just talked about it, and you move on.
“Tomorrow I’m putting my race head back forward and focusing on the back, and I hope to bring you a good race.”