The Mercedes of Hamilton and George Russell could only qualify seventh and eighth as they locked out the fourth row of the grid for Sunday’s race at Japan. 

Hamilton ended up over a second down on pole sitter Max Verstappen, with most of Mercedes’ deficit coming in the first sector. 

The seven-time world champion is certain Mercedes’ issues in the first sector are directly related to their car concept, which he says needs to be changed for 2024. 

"Yesterday was a bad day. Each weekend we are having, out of the three days there is at least one bad day,” Hamilton said. 

"The balance didn't feel great yesterday, we did some changes and good work overnight, and the car has felt generally really nice today. The car has been nice to drive through P3, so I've been feeling much more confident.

"Then in qualifying I was giving it everything but that seven-tenth deficit we have in sector one, it's all rear-end. Our car has loads of load on the front and not as much as we need on the rear.

"So we're a really long way down on that and for me it's 100 percent clear its [the] concept and we have got to make sure we change that for next year, which hopefully we will.”

“It’s a steep gap that we have to close for next year but you’ve seen what the Astons done coming into this year, so you can make big steps. 

“You’ve seen what the McLarens have done this year by going down the Red Bull route, they are now ahead of us on a track like this."

Hamilton did manage to put an end to a run of three consecutive qualifying defeats to Russell since F1 returned from the summer break. 

"I gave it everything I could, I was happy with my laps, they were just not that quick compared to others,” he explained. 

“Even though the car is difficult to drive with the rear-end, it’s still an enjoyable lap. 

“I think I was three and a half tenths up on George and for a track like this, that’s pretty decent. I just hope for a better race tomorrow.”