Lewis Hamilton might have dreamed of fighting for pole position in Austin, but despite Mercedes bringing a whole host of upgrades to the race weekend, the gap to the frontrunners still remains significant.
The Brit qualified in P5, behind both Red Bulls and Ferraris but eventually was moved up to P3 following gird penalties for Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.
The Silver Arrows had brought upgrades for their floor and rear wing to this race weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, however the substantial gap that they have had to the cars in front has remained the same after qualifying.
“The fact is we’re over sixth tenths off,” Hamilton told the media following qualifying.
“So given that everyone’s worked so hard to bring upgrades this weekend and the gap’s the same, that’s difficult for us.”
With Hamilton’s teammate George Russell qualifying only a position behind him, it is clear that this was the true pace of the Mercedes rather than a poor session for Hamilton in particular.
“All weekend it’s been feeling really good, I was feeling great in the car yesterday in P1 and then even in P2 with the tyre test and then this morning,” Hamilton said.
“Then we got into qualifying and the thing went massively to oversteer. So I was just battling, catching the rear a lot of the time.”
The early failure of these upgrades will be disheartening for Hamilton who would have hoped that he would finally have a car to compete with Red Bull and Ferrari at this weekend’s Grand Prix.
Mercedes technical director James Allison has recently made comments that may come as some consolation to Hamilton.
When speaking about the W13 he told the press that Mercedes are heavily focused on their car for next season, planning a rise back to the top, with a good understanding of what needs to be done.
Allison claims that the team know exactly what their shortcoming have been this season, and believes that they have the capability to get back to the levels set by Red Bull and Ferrari next season.
These comments indicate that whilst upgrades are being worked on to aid Hamilton and Russell at the tail end of this season, the main focus will be on making next year’s car competitive, which will be music to the duo’s ears.
Hamilton will be hoping that he has a car to hunt down a record breaking eight world title next season, surpassing Michael Schumacher’s record.