Mercedes losing quite a chunk on Interlagos straights - Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes was missing “quite a chunk” on Interlagos’ straights after qualifying in third position for Formula 1’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Hamilton has not taken a pole in nine rounds – the longest drought of his Mercedes career – with Ferrari and Red Bull having led the way in the majority of the qualifying sessions.

Max Verstappen set the pace for the third time this season as he dominated the three-part qualifying hour, while Sebastian Vettel completed the front-row of the grid for Ferrari.

“It was definitely a challenging session,” said Hamilton.

“Final practice was really strong for us, when we got to qualifying these guys had great pace and we were losing out to Max on the straights by quite a chunk, which is where the majority of time was coming from.

“I chipped away at it, the last lap was really as good as it could get for us.

“In all honesty the car felt good, just lacking a bit of pace on the straights, but hopefully that will put us in a good place tomorrow in terms of longevity of the stints, but I’m happy to split the Ferraris.”

Hamilton suggested on Friday that Mercedes could afford to experiment, given that it has wrapped up both titles, but downplayed wholesale changes to his race approach.

“My approach is pretty much the same all year long, but maybe we can be a bit more aggressive tomorrow, have fun with these guys,” said Hamilton, pointing to Verstappen and Vettel.

“But I don’t see any changes as that’s what’s got me to where I am today.”