Mercedes endured a disappointing Friday in Barcelona despite running their newly-upgraded W14, with George Russell ending FP2 half a second off the pace in eighth, while Hamilton was a couple of tenths further back in 11th. 

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The revised Mercedes was slower than the Red Bull, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Alpine over a single lap, as well as Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas. 

And Hamilton is bracing for a tight battle to just reach the top-10, with the seven-time world champion noting the “impressive” improvements made by Mercedes’ rivals. 

“I think from the pace that I had today, it’s a struggle currently for me to get into the top-10,” Hamilton conceded. 

“But hopefully we’ll do some changes overnight. It’s very, very close between us and P5 back to P10, it’s really, really close between us all. 

“It’s impressive to see the improvements everyone seems to have made all around us. If you look at [Esteban] Ocon, the Alpines are doing great. 

“The Aston Martin was second, just behind the Red Bull, which is really, really impressive. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.” 

Asked how Mercedes’ upgraded car felt, Hamilton said: "It’s okay. Were fighting as hard as we can. 

“I would say it was a difficult P1 and P2, just getting on top of the tyres and the deg. The car feels… The car feels like the car.

“I think the long-run pace didn’t look terrible, we’ve just got to work on trying to figure out how we extract more from a single lap.” 

Russell, who was the quicker Mercedes driver in both practice sessions, said: “A lot of people are bringing updates to the car. 

“We weren’t expecting to suddenly set the world on fire. We just need to learn what we can from the info we’ve got and try to forward tomorrow.”