“I think from the pace that I had today it’s a struggle for me currently to get into the top ten, but hopefully we’ll do some changes overnight,” he said.
“I think it’s very, very close between us and that middle bit, after P5 back to kind of P10. It’s really close between us all.
“It’s impressive to see the improvements that everyone seems to have made all around us. You look at Ocon, the Alpines are doing great, you saw the Aston Martin was second just right behind the Red Bull which is really, really impressive. So it’s not going to be easy that’s for sure.”
Following the debut of its highly anticipated revised package at the last round in Monaco, Hamilton expressed excitement on Thursday over the prospect of getting to test the updated W14 on a more conventional circuit.
But following a tough outing on the track today, the six-time Spanish GP race winner asserts that Mercedes’ main focus ahead of the weekend will be analysing how it can improve its pace over a single lap.
“It’s so different from last week obviously of course,” he added. “But we’re just focusing – I think the long run pace didn’t look terrible, and we’ve just got to work on trying to figure out how we can extract more over a single lap.”
Meanwhile, George Russell, who wound up eighth in the sister Mercedes in the latter session, shared his team-mate’s view that qualifying will be decided by fine margins.
Less than a second covered Max Verstappen at the top of the timesheets from Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri in 17th place in FP2.
With Mercedes typically showcasing a tendency to possess stronger race day performance over outright one-lap speed, the Brit reckons the German outfit could have a fight on its hands tomorrow up against a series of quick rivals in qualifying trim.
When asked where Mercedes will stack up in the fight for pole, Russell answered: “Well, I don’t think there is a fight for pole with anyone on this grid. So that’s the way things are at the moment.
“It’s going to be tight. There are a few cars that are definitely fast on a Saturday, I think Alpines are looking really strong, so I think between us Ferrari and Alpine, it’s probably going to be tight.
“Nico [Hulkenberg] was really quick today, and I don’t know where that came from. But we saw that in Miami, I think, Kevin [Magnussen] was really quick and qualified ahead of us, but things changed on Sunday.
“I don’t expect us to be having an incredible day tomorrow, but I certainly expect us to have a better Sunday than Saturday. So that’s what we are gearing up for.”