Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas won the sprint qualifying race ahead of Verstappen but will start last after taking a grid penalty for moving onto his fourth power unit of the season.

A poor start saw Hamilton drop to fifth behind Verstappen and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris and the seven-time world champion was unable to find a way past during the 18-lap race as he finished fifth.

Hamilton, who will line-up from fourth on the grid for Sunday’s main event, admitted Mercedes had “underestimated” how long the soft tyres would last after opting for mediums while the fast-starting McLarens gained crucial early ground on softs.

“We lost a lot of points,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.

“I think we underestimated how well they [soft tyres] would behave. We’ve got to try and figure out how to get by the McLarens tomorrow and try to limit the damage.”

And Hamilton has already ruled out the possibility of beating Verstappen to victory.

“You saw the pace of the Red Bull,” he said. “I don’t know if he [Verstappen] was faster than Valtteri but now he’s on pole, so it should an easy win for him.

“For me, I’ve just got to try and get past these McLarens.”

Hamilton is convinced that upgrades are enabling Red Bull to pull further ahead of Mercedes.

“I think they have got more pace than they’ve had all year,” he explained. “They bring upgrades every week.

"From what I’m told, there’s only one race where they haven’t brought an upgrade, so they are constantly bringing performance to the car and they’ve done a great job.”