Baffled Lewis Hamilton explains why he’s disappointed with Mercedes upgrade

Lewis Hamilton has tasted victory five times at the Circuit of the Americas, but starts fifth on Sunday.

It was yet another Saturday of disappointment for Mercedes, as the Silver Arrows once again had to settle for a third-row lockout in qualifying.

Fifth and sixth are probably two numbers Mercedes would like to ban from their vocabulary, with it seemingly being the best the Germans can manage on a Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton was again the better of the two Mercedes’, with the Brit claiming fifth with George Russell in sixth.

The seven-time World Champion was actually expecting better from the session, after feeling “really good” in the W13 throughout the weekend so far, following the team’s new aerodynamic upgrade package.

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Unfortunately, Hamilton’s car suffered huge bouts of oversteer during the session, resulting in the Brit ending qualifying almost six-tenths behind polesitter Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton only just out-qualified Russell by four-hundredths of a second, continuing his run of out-qualifying his team-mate at every round since the summer break.

The big dilemma for Mercedes is that this weekend was tipped to be their final chance at a potential victory, something that looks off the cards given the speed of Red Bull and Ferrari.

“These guys are a lot quicker, particularly Red Bull is, a lot quicker on the straights,” Hamilton said after qualifying fifth.

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“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.”

There is one big positive for Hamilton and Russell, though, as the pair will actually start the race third and fourth due to Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez both having grid penalties due to taking onboard engine components outside of their allocated pool.

It means a podium at worst is a possibility; however, this season has shown that the Germans are strong usually on Sundays, meaning a victory might not be completely unthinkable.

Despite this, Hamilton is still downbeat by the fact that their upgrade hasn’t brought them “much closer” to the front, something which is “tough” for the entire team to grasp.

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“It was a really, really difficult qualifying session,” the Brit 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.”