Lewis Hamilton says the performance of his Mercedes Formula 1 car “plateaued” during a “difficult” qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton had topped both of the dry practice sessions - including final practice on Saturday morning - at the Hungaroring but was unable to challenge Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for pole position in Q3.

The Briton ended up 0.197s adrift of Verstappen’s pole effort and was also outpaced by Mercedes teammate and chief title rival Valtteri Bottas, who missed out on his fifth pole of the season by just 0.018s.

“For me it a difficult qualifying session,” Hamilton admitted.

“Practice was going quite well, we knew Red Bull was quick, they’re always quick here.

“I think when we got into qualifying, the car wasn’t the same as it was in FP3 and it was just as a bit of a struggle from the beginning and it just kind of plateaued from there and didn’t really get any better.

“We will look into it, but nonetheless we’re still in the fight, and hopefully for the race we’ll have better race pace than qualifying.

“It kind of got away from me a little bit once we got into qualifying but still we are in a good position to fight for the win so we’ll just be pushing hard tomorrow.”

Despite lining up third on the grid at a track that is notoriously difficult to overtake at, Hamilton remains optimistic about Mercedes’ chances for race day.

"We’re in a good position in terms of working as a team,” Hamilton said.

“We’re in a fortunate position potentially if we can hold on to Max to be able to work together to give him a bit of a run for his money.

“It’s a little bit harder if you’re on your own at the front as you can come under attack from undercuts a bit.

“It’s a long run to T1, hopefully a nice battle there, then after that it’s down to team tactics.”

 

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