Lewis Hamilton feels that he simply lacked the outright speed to challenge at the very front during Friday's practice sessions in Qatar.
Hamilton finished second practice in fourth place, almost half a second away from the pace set by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, but just 0.072s behind championship leader and Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
"I don't even know how big the gap is. But I'm off, so I'm definitely not close," a noticeably downbeat Hamilton said after the day's action.
"Driving-wise, it's OK, it's all high-speed corners, so it's definitely physical, but then the track's quite nice."
Hamilton had voiced concerns about his power unit during the first practice session, reporting that he felt down on power, while also picking up some minor front-end damage from hitting the kerbs that forced him to pit for repairs.
He added: "No real issues. There's a little bit of damage just from riding kerbs, but nothing too serious, hopefully.
"I'm a little bit slow, so I need to figure that out."
Nothing to say on Mercedes' review request
With Hamilton speaking to the press for the first time since the confirmation that the stewards were not granting Mercedes a right of review over his battle with Verstappen in Brazil, he explained that he's not wasting any mental energy on the situation.
"I don't have any thoughts on it," he commented, having said on Thursday that he had changed his view on the clash after watching television footage.
"I was not a part of it [the review process] and I have been focusing on trying to do my weekend."
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