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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton details ‘insane’ extent of Mercedes weakness

Lewis Hamilton has explained the "insane" extent of the high-speed deficit between Mercedes and Red Bull, despite having "no major issues" in qualifying for the Austrian GP.

Hamilton Austria
To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton says it is "insane" how much slower Mercedes is compared to Red Bull in high-speed corners after Max Verstappen took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix in dominant fashion.

The Dutchman was over four-tenths of a second clear of his nearest rival in McLaren's Lando Norris.

Mercedes team-mate George Russell qualified in third, over half a second back from the Red Bull whilst Hamilton himself was nearly six-tenths of a second slower. The 39-year-old will line up for Sunday's race in fifth, with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz just ahead.

However, despite the staggering gap, the seven-time F1 champion was quick to highlight the steps forward taken by the team from the sprint portion of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

"Changes into qualifying, the car was better, no real major issues," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.

"We're down a lot in the high-speed [corners] compared to Max [Verstappen], like a lot. It's insane how much faster they are in high speeds. I think they're about 12 or 13kph faster.

"We just don't have enough downforce. We haven't made any compromises, that's just all we got."

Hamilton out of answers for downforce issues

Throughout the weekend in Spielberg, Mercedes has found itself battling with Ferrari, whilst Verstappen and the McLarens enjoyed control of the top three. However, the Dutchman has appeared to take a step forward, leaving Norris adrift and closer to the chasing pack.

As to how Mercedes might best remedy the lack of downforce and overall performance gap, Hamilton was out of ideas.

"I don't know the answer," he said. "I honestly don't know the answer. If I could take a piece of downforce and chuck it on the back, I would, but that's not how it goes.

"We're just going to continue to work on improving, but the notion of us potentially winning a race this year, when you get a half-a-second gap like today, makes it a little bit further down the road - but we've got to keep pushing."

Mercedes has been called to the stewards after a bizarre incident with a rear jack in the final part of qualifying saw Hamilton's car released in an unsafe condition. The team will likely be fined.

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