Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes “fell back a little” through the course of the US Grand Prix weekend after missing out on pole position.
Mercedes opened the weekend in commanding fashion in first practice but Red Bull moved to the front prior to the two teams battling it out in qualifying.
Max Verstappen beat Hamilton to top spot in Q3 at the Circuit of the Americas while Sergio Perez was third, in front of Valtteri Bottas.
“I think from P1 onwards we kind of fell back a little bit and those guys were incredibly quick through qualifying,” said Hamilton.
“We have been making lots of changes to try to improve the car. But it’s been a real challenge, and going into qualifying I think the first session wasn’t that great.
“Q1 wasn’t spectacular but it started to improve, particularly on the medium tyre, and the last two runs were pretty good.
“I think they have just been pretty quick all weekend and I think we were able to match them or be ahead in P1 but since then they have really pulled a lot.
“You can tell that the car is quick because obviously both of them are up there and pulling in some seriously good laps. But we are in a good position to fight them and I hope we can.”
Hamilton nonetheless expressed confidence that he can fight for top spot in race trim.
“Tyre wear is really aggressive here so it will be interesting to see what strategy we can do and that will present opportunities along the way, as well,” he said.
“So it wasn’t my favourite day but we can fight [in the race].”