Hamilton expects 'qualifying mode' will put Red Bull ahead despite Friday progress

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull's "qualifying mode" will give them the edge despite a stronger performance on Friday in Austria.

After Max Verstappen has picked up where he left off last Sunday in Practice 1, Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in the second session in Spielberg, finishing two-tenths clear of the Dutchman.

But Hamilton remains convinced that Red Bull is the team to beat at their home circuit, noting how Verstappen's pace picks up quite substantially when it matters.

"They've definitely got something extra in the bag, I already know that," the reigning world champion said in the paddock.

Also Read:

"We've made some small progress today, but I think they still have two tenths, maybe it's a tenth and a half or something like that.

"Over a single lap that felt okay, it felt pretty good," he continued. "I just expect them to turn up a little bit more tomorrow. They've almost basically got like the qualifying mode we used to have!

"I don't understand where they get it from, I asked my guys. But it's impressive, and we've got to work hard to try and see if we can match them somehow."

Mercedes were also more competitive on the race simulation, although a light rain shower did make conditions slightly tricky as Hamilton discovered when he went off at Turn 4.

But as for whether Hamilton could be ahead again on Sunday, he replied: "Whatever gap they [Red Bull] are gonna have tomorrow is usually the gap they seem to have on Sunday. I'm pretty sure it stays the same.

"We'll be pushing, trying to make that gap as small as possible tomorrow. We can improve the car tonight and I like to think that our long run was okay. We'll wait and see."


This week, Hamilton confirmed he has increased his input at Mercedes to try and help them out of what is now their longest winless streak in the hybrid era.

That includes spending more time in the simulator at Brackley, and he revealed that was the cause for his steady start in the morning, when Lewis was only P7.

"FP1 was a bit of a struggle because I just was trying different variants of the car and the car was unhappy," he said.

"What I learned in the sim is what we started with and it wasn't good, so we had to come back on a few changes

"I had to make some more changes back to similar to what I had last week with some other adjustments and felt much better.

"There are a couple of things that I've tried at the end, which we were going to test while we're here but there's just not enough time.

"So I'm generally happy with where the car is. I'm probably not going to change too much," he admitted. "Most often, if it ain't broke then don't fix it!

"[If] you always try to eke out more it gets worse, so it'll be the tiniest of tweaks."