Hamilton was beaten by both Red Bulls and McLaren’s Lando Norris in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring with the seven-time champion set to start the race from fourth, a place ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton was nearly 0.3s shy of Verstappen’s benchmark time in Q3, a slightly bigger gap than it was a week ago at the same circuit.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Hamilton predicts it will be an “easy cruise win” for his main title rival on race day.

“I would say so yeah, in terms of pure pace it’s definitely out of the question,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “Those guys firstly have two cars to get by in front. They’ve got three-tenths on us. 

“I think they’ve improved their car again this weekend. I would say that’s an easy cruise win for Max. I think for us, to try and see if we can get ahead of at least Perez and try to limit the damage this weekend.”

When pressed about where he was losing out to Verstappen at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton explained: “I mean when I look at the lap to Max it’s the whole lap, yeah. It’s just a little bit everywhere.”

Hamilton will have to overtake Norris and Sergio Perez if he is to limit the damage in the championship battle to Verstappen.

“Yeah, even more of a challenge than it already was last week and we’ve continued to lack pace,” Hamilton added. “We tried everything to get more out of the car and it’s just the underlying pace that is where we are at, at the moment.

“We’ve got to really find performance in the following races. I don’t know if McLaren have brought an upgrade but they’re mega quick today - great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve.”