Mercedes have endured a hugely challenging campaign trying to understand their troubled W13 car following a major change of technical regulations over the winter. 

The W13 was plagued by porpoising problems at the start of the year and its inconsistent performance has proven to be a source of huge frustration for drivers Hamilton and George Russell

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Mercedes finally scored their first win of the season last time out in Brazil, with Russell leading a 1-2, but the team has struggled for competitiveness at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the Yas Marina Circuit exposing the car’s flaws. 

Hamilton was just 0.03s ahead of Russell but nearly seven-tenths off Max Verstappen’s pole time, leaving the Mercedes pair occupying the third row of the grid. 

"Definitely wasn't expecting to see such a big gap," Hamilton said after qualifying. “But we are losing 0.6secs on the straight. 

“Kind of reminiscent of some of the previous races before - kinda Austin. And bouncing is back, so that's not been easy.”

Hamilton has just Sunday’s grand prix, and a test on Tuesday, to complete before he parts ways with the W13 for good. 

"I am looking forward to the end of Tuesday, which is the last time I have to drive this thing,” he laughed. “Don't ever plan to drive this one again. It won't be one of the ones I request to have in my contract.

"We have some downforce. We just need a much more efficient car and everybody in the team knows exactly what are the problems and where we have gone wrong so I'm pretty confident they are not going to build the next car with any of those characteristics.”

Hamilton’s record on the line 

Hamilton has already lost his record of taking at least one pole position in every season he has contested since making his F1 debut in 2007, and the seven-time world champion could see another one of his records fall on Sunday. 

If Hamilton fails to win in Abu Dhabi, it will mark the first time in his F1 career that he has ended a season winless, though he has repeatedly stressed it is not a statistic that bothers him. 

"He says that the one victory a year isn't really a record that bothers him," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said on Saturday night. 

"If I'm trying to put myself in his shoes, where I was before Brazil, it didn't particularly bother me whether we would win a race this season, because all our eyes are already on next year.

"But having won one, it felt pretty good. At least nobody could say you didn't win a race.

"I don't think this particular record is an important one for him, but we need to provide him with a car next year in which he can fight for victories and championships. That's most important and he knows that."