Lewis Hamilton has conceded that he is turning his attention to the 2023 F1 season given the deficit Mercedes still face to front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari.
Hamilton and Mercedes entered the French Grand Prix weekend with high expectations due to the smooth nature of the Circuit Paul Ricard and the team's run of four podium finishes in a row.
However, Hamilton finished the best part of a second slower than the pole position time en route to P4 on the grid, stating that Red Bull and Ferrari are "in their own league" up front.
Meanwhile, George Russell had to settle for sixth in the other W13, losing out to McLaren's Lando Norris.
Hamilton's "beautiful" French GP qualifying lap
While pleased with his own qualifying performance, Hamilton feels Mercedes – armed with more updates – have lost ground to their main rivals this weekend.
"I was really happy with my lap at the end. It was a beautiful lap, it was just a second off!" Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"For whatever reason, we seem to be a lot further off this weekend. But the whole pack is. The two top teams are just in their own league, really.
"Considering I missed FP1, which definitely does put you on the back foot, I'm really happy with the progress that I made.
"Everyone back at the factory is working really hard with us to make progress. We came into today and we didn't actually... I think we took a step back today, but [going] into qualifying, we managed to turn it around."
Viewed by others:
Hamilton thinking about next year's Mercedes
Hamilton then explained how he is trying to learn as many lessons as possible from this year's Mercedes to ensure that his 2023 challenger is up to scratch.
"It's not that it's disheartening, it's just you do a lap and then they're like, 'You're 1.7 off'," he continued.
"Then you do a really good lap and you're 1.1 seconds off and you're like, 'Wow'. There's nothing I can do in my power to change that.
"Of course, everyone's working as hard as they can and each weekend we come with little bits to try and improve, and sometimes it just doesn't make a difference. For sure, that's difficult for everyone.
"Where I'm focused on and what I already said at the beginning of the year is it's just trying to understand this car more.
"I'm really, really working closely with the team to say, 'These are the bits that I want from this car, and the bits I don't want from this car, on next year's car'.
"I'm trying to steer that so at least... hopefully later on this year we get somewhere better, but next year's car is one we can fight with."
Video: How much does it cost to become an F1 driver?
RacingNews365.com breaks down how much it costs drivers to make their way up the ranks in the world of motorsport and become an F1 driver.