Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes’ rivals are quicker than they are after the Briton only clocked the fifth fastest time during qualifying ahead of the United States Grand Prix. But Hamilton is set to start Sunday’s race in third place on the grid after Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc and Red Bull star Sergio Perez were slapped with penalties and demoted down the grid.
“These guys are a lot quicker, particularly Red Bull is, a lot quicker on the straights,” Hamilton said after qualifying had come to an end. “We might be able to keep up with them in the corners but I think in terms of pure pace they are just no matter.
“All weekend it’s been feeling really good. I was feeling great in the car yesterday in P1 and even in P2 with the tyre tests and then this morning, and then [I] got into qualifying and the thing went massively into oversteer.
“I was catching the rear a lot of the time. It was just one step, tiny, but it seemed to make a huge difference. But maybe it was the temperature drop.”
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Mercedes had arrived in Austin with an upgraded version of their W13 as they look to find a way to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari. But Hamilton was downbeat ahead of Sunday’s race. “It was a really, really difficult qualifying session,” the veteran added. “I felt so optimistic all weekend. The car had been feeling good.
“Everyone back at the factory worked so hard to bring an upgrade and I was really hopeful that we were going to be much, much closer than we were. I was expecting a bit more. Whatever upgrade we bring the gap stays the same. I don’t know whether they are bringing upgrades at the same time as we are, but it is definitely tough for everyone in the team.”