Lewis Hamilton says there was no way Mercedes could live with Red Bull in the middle sector of the lap in qualifying.
However the Mercedes driver, who could clinch a fifth world championship title on Sunday, gave credit to his Mercedes team for the progress they made since the first day of practice.
“Considering how bad yesterday was for us – and so I really want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s back at the factory who’ve been working hard overnight and also the guys here – to rectify the issues we’ve had and get the car back into a sweeter spot,” he said.
“But congratulations to Daniel [Ricciardo]. These guys were just too quick. They were in a league of their own in general up until qualifying and even in qualifying.
“If you look at his middle sector, there was no way I could get that. To be as close as I am, I’m really quite happy with that, and to be on third, it’s not a bad start.”
Hamilton, who qualified third behind the two Red Bulls, doubts he’ll be able to keep them from winning Sunday’s race.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think these guys do generally have the better pace.
“On tracks like this, for whatever reason, I guess the Renault engines working really well but more so the higher downforce level that they usually are able to achieve is definitely helping for sure.
“But I guess the race pace was not so bad yesterday but those guys again were in their own league in that section. We have improved the car so I’m hoping tomorrow we can still give it a fight and if we’re able to gain any ground at the beginning, then game on.”
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