Lewis Hamilton made no excuses for his Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying performance after ending up only fourth on the grid.

Hamilton headed into qualifying looking to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven pole positions in Canada but ended up 0.232s behind chief title rival Sebastian Vettel’s pole effort in fourth after failing to hook up a clean lap in Q3. 

The Briton was unable to match the pace of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas - as the Finn claimed a front-row start - and was beaten by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the closing moments of the top 10 shootout. 

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“It was a difficult qualifying,” Hamilton admitted. “My laps weren't good and it just didn't quite come together for me. In practice things looked good and I think I could have been quickest in FP3, but in qualifying I couldn't quite hit the potential we had shown.”

Hamilton downplayed suggestions that Mercedes’ failure to land a fifth successive pole around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was due to running an older-spec engine, after the German manufacturer was forced to delay its introduction of an upgraded power unit in Montreal, while rivals Ferrari and Renault both brought updated power units. 

"I don't think today's performance has got anything to do with the older engine,” he said. “Sebastian simply did a better job when it counted in Q3. You can see just how tight things are at the front of the grid, so I think it could be tricky to overtake tomorrow. 

“Sure, it'll be tough to win from fourth here, but nothing is impossible. I'll dig deep tonight. My focus now is on tomorrow.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff put Hamilton’s lack of pace down to his struggles with getting to grips with the Hypersoft tyre. Mercedes only ran the compound for the first time in FP3 after opting to bring just five sets of Pirelli’s fastest-ever F1 tyre to Canada. 

“Lewis made a useful improvement on that last run but was never totally comfortable on the Hypersoft tyre today and his qualifying position shows that,” Wolff explained. “The positive is that we have both cars starting on the Ultrasoft, so we hope to be in a strong position for the race with a number of strategic options.”

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