Lewis Hamilton described the Mercedes W14 as a “nightmare” after he qualified P6 for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Of the many contenders to challenge Max Verstappen for pole, Mercedes were thought to be amongst them but that hope quickly faded away.
Hamilton would go on to stumble to a P6 starting spot with his team-mate George Russell two places further back and the seven-time World Champion is not confident of an easy race.
Lewis Hamilton predicting ‘real challenge’ in Mexico
Speaking after the qualifying proceedings had come to an end, Hamilton labelled the W14 as a “nightmare” and predicted a “real challenge” was ahead of him in Sunday’s race.
“I’ve been struggling all weekend with the car and it has been a bit of a nightmare to drive,” he said. “We’ve had to try and put the performance together piece by piece, and we made good changes going into qualifying so that I was much happier with the car.
“Q1 and Q2 weren’t looking too bad – especially the second run in Q2. But the car is just really peaky – sometimes it’s in the window, sometimes not. And I couldn’t squeeze anything more out of it on that final lap.
“The race is definitely going to be a challenge: we will be overheating the tyres and the brakes, so it won’t be easy to battle the cars around us. I don’t really know what kind of race to expect but it’s going to be on a knife edge.”
Russell was similarly disappointed with his run, suggesting the team lacked “consistency” throughout Saturday’s running.
“It was a bit of a shame to end up P8 because we showed signs of strong pace at points, but we didn’t deliver when it counted,” Russell said.
“We lacked consistency today – some runs we were strong, others not, so it was a confusing picture. On the final run, we had one set of new tyres and tried something different on the out lap, and it didn’t work and the tyres weren’t in the window.
“As for tomorrow, it will be hard from P8 – the brakes will need managing and PU temperatures are always a challenge, too. We came here expecting to be competitive and I hope we can make progress in the race, but it won’t be easy.”