Lewis Hamilton has admitted “it was a difficult day” for his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team after he qualified fourth for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The defending champion had topped the timing sheets in both sessions on Friday but slipped behind both Scuderia Ferraris on Saturday.
“It was a difficult day,” said Hamilton. “We started the weekend positively in practice, but the car went away from us today, the pace just wasn’t there.
“Ferrari have definitely improved over the weekend – maybe they didn’t quite show their true pace yesterday – but today they were rapid. We were half a second behind them in qualifying, which is why I boxed on my final lap because I knew I couldn’t match their pace.”
Hamilton is aware of the size of the task facing him on race day at the Shanghai International Circuit but is hopeful of fighting the Ferraris.
“It’s not going to be easy to beat Kimi and Sebastian tomorrow, they’re the quickest on the straights too, so overtaking will be tough,” said the Briton. “We start fourth and I’m gonna have to fight from there.
“It should be hotter tomorrow, which could turn everything on its head. We’ll keep our heads up and keep pushing. The fans here in China have been amazing, I hope they know I’ll do everything to fight for them tomorrow.”