Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes should be “really proud” of their qualifying performance in Mexico City, but an engine problem left him not quite as quick as he could have been.
He was heard on team radio reporting “power dropping” after his first run in Q3, with his lap also having been deleted for breaching track limits early in the lap.
Hamilton was able to recover and clock a final flying effort towards the end of the session that was good enough to take third place on the grid for the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez behind his Mercedes team-mate George Russell and pole-sitter Max Verstappen.
With the team having largely struggled on Saturdays this season, the seven-time former World Champion thinks Mercedes can be pleased with their efforts.
“There’s definitely positives from today,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after qualifying. “For us to be second and third I think is amazing. And the car’s been feeling great this weekend.
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“I had some problems with the engine in Q3, so not quite sure what it was but definitely feel like there was quite a bit of time left on the table with it.
“But still, for us to be there and be that close is amazing, and I think everyone back at the factory should be really, really proud. I just hope we can race these guys tomorrow.”
With Russell having taken top spot in FP2 and FP3, as well as both Mercedes drivers being right in the mix throughout qualifying, Verstappen’s eventual three-tenths buffer to the rest left Hamilton wondering how he was able to build that gap.
Despite that, he hopes Mercedes will be able to put themselves in contention for race victory – with 71 laps to come on Sunday.
“I think still they are the ones to beat, they are still fully ahead of us,” the Briton said of Red Bull. “Three tenths in qualy still is a huge chunk – I don’t know where that extra time came from.
“As I said, I think there was a bit of time [lost] with the engine but still, it wasn’t three tenths, maybe a couple.
“I don’t know. Hopefully we can still put some pressure on them with strategy tomorrow.”