Lewis Hamilton predicts the Austrian Grand Prix will be “an easy cruise win” for Max Verstappen, and thinks Red Bull’s advantage has got even bigger since its comfortable win last weekend.
Mercedes only qualified fourth and fifth for the second Red Bull Ring race with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, as Verstappen notched up his third straight pole.
Lando Norris’s McLaren and Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez filled out the top three.
Hamilton told Sky Sports Mercedes’ situation was “even more of a challenge than it was already last week, and we continue to lack pace”.
He ruled out any chance of race victory.
“In pure pace, a win is definitely out of the question,” Hamilton continued. “Those guys firstly have got two cars in front and they’ve got three tenths on us, I think they’ve improved their car again this weekend.
“So I’d say that’s an easy cruise win for Max.
“The thing for us is to try and see if we can at least get ahead of Perez and try to limit the damage this weekend.”
The reigning champion, who has agreed a new two-year Mercedes deal this weekend, feels Mercedes is losing out around “the whole lap” with a deficit to Red Bull that is “just little bits everywhere”.
Hamilton added: “We tried everything to get more out of the car and the underlying pace is where we’re at at the moment.
“We’ve really got to find performance in the following races.
“I don’t know if McLaren have brought an upgrade, but they’re mega quick today so great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve.”