Hamilton concedes Austrian GP defeat

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has already conceded defeat in tonight’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix after qualifying fourth fastest.

The Mercedes driver will start alongside Sergio Perez on the second row, with Max Verstappen and Lando Norris ahead.

It’s a harsh reality check for the seven-time champ who showed promising performance during Friday afternoon’s practice session.

That reversed in the 60-minute practice outing on Saturday in which Verstappen underscored the pace advantage he enjoys in the Red Bull.

He then rammed that message home in qualifying, taking his third pole position on the trot despite a scruffy lap.

Hamilton was powerless to do anything about it, his best 0.3s away from the championship leader’s time.

“We continue to lack pace,” the seven-time world champion told Sky Sports after qualifying.

“[We] Tried everything to get more out of the car and it’s just the underlying pace, that is where we’re at at the moment.”

Hamilton went on to suggest the qualifying deficit will carry over into the race, making the task of claiming his 100th world championship race win all but impossible this weekend.

“In pure pace, it’s definitely out of the question,” he admitted of his chances of victory.

“Firstly, I’ve got two cars to get by in front and they’ve (Red Bull) got three tenths [over us] and I think they’ve improved their car again this weekend.

“I would say that that’s an easy cruise win for Max.

“For us, [our aim] is to try and see if we can get ahead of at least Perez and try to limit the damages.”

Hamilton currently trails Verstappen by 18 points in the championship after eight races.

He last claimed victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in May making for the longest dry spell the 36-year-old has endured since 2018, when he went winless for six races (from the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix to the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix).

Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST.

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