After claiming the team’s first pole position of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes returned from the summer break to find themselves 1.8s behind Max Verstappen at the Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying.
After the session, a visibly downbeat Lewis Hamilton said the team should switch their focus to next year’s car.
“Everyone’s working for improvements,” the Briton said.
“We came here very, very optimistic that we would be able to be close, half a second, who knows. To be 1.8s behind, it’s a real kick in the teeth, but it is what it is.
“It’s a car we continue to struggle with and I definitely won’t miss it at the end of the year. For me it’s just about focussing on how we build and design next year’s car.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
“The other two teams ahead of us are in another league but our car looks so much different to theirs. We have a lot of work to do. We will do the best we can for the rest of the season.”
Lewis added there is not much the team can do to improve the car ahead of the race on Sunday.
“There’s not a lot… We can’t do anything overnight, we can’t change anything overnight, so all we can do is work with what we have.
“We don’t know how fast or slow we’re going to be tomorrow. It could be a surprise if we’re closer than we think or… That’s the biggest gap we’ve ever had in qualifying.
“What we do do is talk about meetings we’re going to have, talk about the steps, where we want to be with next year’s car, what are the problems here, what can we take from our understanding of the data we have here and apply it to make sure the next car is not like this one at all!
“So that’s what I’m trying to work on.”
Due to multiple engine related grid penalties, Lewis will start the race from P4, so he doesn’t close the door on a possible good result.
“That’s how crazy it is, we were really slow but we’re starting fourth tomorrow and we maybe have a chance still to get it in a podium position. Who knows?
“So you’ve just got to stay optimistic. I don’t think this car … this weekend currently it has not told me that it wants to win!
“But maybe I’ll have a conversation with it tonight and tomorrow it will be a little bit more responsive,” Hamilton concluded.