Sir Lewis Hamilton is hesitant to suggest that Mercedes have the race pace to come out on top at the British Grand Prix after the seven-time champion qualified fifth.
The Briton ended the second practice session second as the teams tested out their long-run pace having missed most of FP1 due to rain, and the predicted pace improvements due to the smooth track surface and Mercedes’ upgrades came to the fore.
However, it looked as though Ferrari and Red Bull were hiding some pace ahead of qualifying, and they locked out the front four grid slots in wet qualifying as Carlos Sainz claimed his maiden pole position.
There does not appear to have been any serious “porpoising” or bouncing for the Silver Arrows this weekend, so Hamilton believes the team can get closer to the front, but they will not quite have enough to take the top step on the podium.
“I don’t know if we can challenge for the win, the Red Bulls are so quick in the dry,” he said.
“They are pulling away on the straights and in the high-speed [corners].
“They don’t have any bouncing whereas we have bouncing, particularly in those corners.
“Our race pace was better [on Friday] although they are still a little ahead, but let’s see.
“I’m hoping we’re a little closer on race pace compared to the last race and if we are then if I can just hold onto them then maybe I can progress.
“I will definitely be aggressive, don’t worry.”
Hamilton and team-mate George Russell have managed five podiums between them this year, but they have not been able to achieve a better finish than P3 yet.
However, they have enjoyed a relatively smooth weekend in Towcester, and part of that is due to the upgrade package that the team in Brackley have been working on.
“The team have worked incredibly hard to bring some upgrades this weekend and we had a bunch of furniture around the car,” explained Hamilton.
Hamilton and Russell backed off ahead of their final laps in Q3 to charge the battery, but a late shower prevented either of them from improving on fifth and eighth respectively.
“They [the team] wanted to go for a racier power mode for the last lap and charge the battery etcetera, and as we did that, it rained a little more and it was messed up,” added Hamilton.
“I was really, really so hopeful because we’ve this incredible crowd, I was in the fight, feeling great, and I was second by 0.02 or something and I thought I could definitely go quicker than that.”
Despite the slightly frustrating end to the shootout, Hamilton is raring to go for the race in front of his home crowd.
“It makes it a little harder but we’ve a good race car, and we’ll continue working, it’s not the worst position to start, of course,” stated the 37-year-old.
“In past races, I would have been super happy with that but because it’s the British Grand Prix, you’re hoping for something more.
“I was on course for that but anyways we will move forwards and I will try and pull out something special.”
Russell also conceded that getting onto the podium from eighth on the grid is not going to be an “easy task.”