Lewis Hamilton has warned Mercedes over its 'worrying' gap to Red Bull, after he qualified in seventh for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The British driver was over a second slower than Max Verstappen, who blitzed the field by over half a second with his pole lap around Suzuka.
Hamilton was not happy with his car setup after Friday practice, but Mercedes worked on his car overnight to find solutions for its lack of pace.
This appeared to the W14 was more to Hamilton's liking during final practice and qualifying but he was still unable to challenge the Ferraris and McLarens for best of the rest.
"Yesterday was horrendous, but made some good changes overnight and the car was feeling really good today, so I was much happier with it," Hamilton told F1 TV.
"Unfortunately, we're just not quick enough. We just got to keep working away.
Hamilton: We're a long way away
Hamilton warned Mercedes that its lack of pace relative to Red Bull is a worrying sign for next season, as it look to close the gap to its main title rivals.
"We're a long way away on rear downforce, so that's why we're so slow in the first sector. But the laps felt really good, it's just within one second away, it's crazy," he added.
"To close that gap for next year and at this point still be a second down like this is definitely worrying for us as a team."
When asked if he expects it to be a tough race for tyres, Hamilton added: "We're just going to struggle like everybody else with tyre degradation. It's going to be tough."