Valtteri Bottas claimed his third pole position of the season with an impressive lap at the start of Q3, with Hamilton slotting in behind his teammate, but ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

Red Bull looked to be in a league of its own after practice with Mercedes struggling with the balance of its W12.

Speaking after qualifying, Hamilton had no explanation for Mercedes’ return to form, stating he was “as shocked as everyone”.

“I've really no idea,” Hamilton said when asked about Mercedes’ turnaround. “They [Red Bull] were like six tenths ahead at some stage, then four-tenths, but whatever happened, we went into qualifying and we had better pace. I'm just as shocked as everyone, but we'll still take it.”

Hamilton took time to praise his teammate, admitting that he simply didn’t have the pace to topple Bottas’ pole time.

“Huge congratulations to Valtteri, Hamilton added. That lap I couldn’t match it.

“We’ve come into this weekend from P1 onwards we’ve generally been behind by half a second, so through the whole weekend working away at trying to improve the car, extract as much as we can from it but knowing they’ve generally got higher downforce, a bigger wing they use in places like Monaco, but so we’ve struggled in certain parts of the track.

“It’s a real surprise and shock to us to see we’re on the front row, I don’t really have an answer for it but I’ll take it for sure, grateful to be up there with Valtteri to get a 1-2.”

Looking ahead to the start of the race, Hamilton says Mercedes will need to work as a team to ensure it doesn’t get swamped by the Red Bulls.

“It’s a little bit different, it’s almost as long, I don’t know, it feels exactly the same sort of length,” Hamilton explained the race start in Mexico versus at Sochi.

“Obviously in Russia there’s a lot more drag and tow effect, here there’s less, obviously still is a tow effect. We’ll work as a team to try and hold a 1-2 for the team.”