It was yet another difficult qualifying session for Sir Lewis Hamilton, as the British driver was out-qualified by new team-mate George Russell for the third time this season.
The seven-time World Champion will start the Spanish Grand Prix from sixth on the grid, whilst Russell starts from fourth.
It’s a bad omen for Hamilton, with overtaking around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya expected to be extremely difficult, meaning it’s highly likely that his run of finishing behind his team-mate will continue.
Despite qualifying two places below the former Williams driver, just over a tenth of a second separated the Mercedes pair, who have Sergio Pérez between them.
The 37-year-old is famed for being somewhat of a qualifying master, however, so far this season the best he has managed on a Saturday is fifth.
Hamilton started fifth at both the Bahrain and Australian Grand Prix earlier in the year.
The Mercedes driver was in a despondent mood following qualifying, believing he should be “at least third”.
“My team-mate is fourth so that means I should be at least third or fourth, and I am sixth,” said Hamilton after qualifying.
“I am still struggling with the car and qualifying wasn’t great for me. I don’t know how to get around that. I don’t know what I am going to do, but I will just continue to work hard and try to figure it out.”
Mercedes have looked much more competitive this weekend, having brought a large upgrades package to the Spanish venue.
The German side have attempted yet again to address their porpoising issues, it does appear that they may have finally hit the nail on the head.
Hamilton agreed that the upgrades were a “step forward”, but that “more bits” are needed.
“We still had some bouncing on Turn 3 and Turn 9 so we still have some improvements to make but it’s a step forward,” Hamilton continued.
“We now have a better idea of the direction we need to go and we are just waiting for the engineers and the aerodynamicists to come through with some more bits for us to progress.”
Ahead of Sunday’s race, Hamilton is 68-points behind Charles Leclerc, who leads the championship.
The Brit was asked if he can still fight for the title, with his Mercedes W13 now being drastically improved.
“I am not really putting my mind to that because I am still way off,” rounded off the British driver.
23-points ahead of Hamilton in the championship is the former Williams driver, who was superb yet again on Saturday.
“Mr Saturday” not only out-qualified his team-mate but also one of the Red Bull Racing drivers.
Qualifying ahead of Pérez is a massive achievement for Mercedes, with Red Bull appearing to possibly have the fastest car on the grid.
People have already begun comparing the Mercedes pairing, however, Russell who has only finished behind Hamilton once this season, is keen to avoid internal issues.
“I just focus on myself and try to do the best job possible and where that leaves me I’ll review from there,” Russell told the media.
“Obviously I believe in myself but I don’t feel as if I’m truly optimising the package, and, compared to Lewis, I’ve got room to improve in a number of aspects.
“I guess it gives me excitement to see what I can deliver a little later on in the season,” Russell concluded.