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‘I’m used to it now’ – Hamilton says he’s ‘trying to keep head above water’ after Q2 exit in Australia

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes looks on in the

Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was left with a “flat feeling” following his exit from Q2 in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, with the seven-time world champion struggling to get to grips with the Mercedes W15 in Melbourne.

Hamilton has endured a difficult weekend so far at the Albert Park Circuit, having labelled Friday’s Free Practice 2 hour as “one of the worst sessions” he had faced in a “long time” as he and the team tested out various set-up experiments.

READ MORE: Verstappen surges to pole position for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Sainz and Perez

Despite seemingly having a more competitive showing in FP3 earlier on Saturday, the Briton had a challenging qualifying session and was pushed out of reaching Q3 by RB’s Yuki Tsunoda.

When asked later on how he had reacted when told that he had missed out on the top-10 shootout, Hamilton responded: “I’m used to it. I’m a bit used to it now, getting knocked out of Q2. Kind of just a flat feeling. It’s not great, but yeah.”

‘I’m used to it now’ – Hamilton on getting knocked out of qualifying in Q2

Pushed further on how he has been dealing with trying to find solutions with the car throughout F1’s visit to Australia – and in previous weekends before – the 39-year-old conceded: “I don’t know if I’m dealing with it that great.

“[I’ve been] less consistent than George [Russell], George is doing a better job with our car. Three qualifyings in a row that he’s outqualified me. He just seems to get on a lot better than I do. So yeah, just trying to keep my head above water and continue to realise it could be way worse.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the best of the action from qualifying in Australia as Verstappen grabs pole

As Hamilton alluded to, Russell again secured a grid slot ahead of his team mate, with the 26-year-old finishing qualifying in seventh place.

While the team seemingly had less pace than they had enjoyed earlier in FP3, Russell voiced his hopes that the car will be stronger come race day.

“I think it’s always difficult to judge in practice how the performance truly is,” he explained. “It’s so tight out there between the top five teams bar Red Bull. There’s always quite a fight on our hands.

Russell pinpoints where Mercedes need to improve after qualifying at Albert Park

“I definitely think we’ll have a faster race car than we had qualifying car, but ultimately we know where we need to improve and that’s the high-speed corners. [At] this circuit there’s quite a few of those around here, but all to play for tomorrow.”

Russell finds himself amid a range of different cars, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Red Bull's Sergio Perez ahead on the third row – with Perez having dropped three places due to a grid penalty – while the RB of Yuki Tsunoda is just behind in P8.

FACTS AND STATS: Ricciardo's first ever Q1 exit in Melbourne spoils the Australian's homecoming

The Mercedes driver believes that he can be in the mix with some of these teams, though has also acknowledged that the lack of usage of the hard tyre so far this weekend could pose an unknown heading into Sunday.

Quizzed on whether he could make a couple of positions should the W15 prove stronger in race form, Russell answered: “Absolutely, I think the fight is definitely on with the McLarens. Ferrari’s just in touching distance. I think we could be seeing a two-stop race tomorrow potentially.

“Not one single driver has used the hard tyre this weekend and every single driver’s going to be using it in the race tomorrow, so the truth is there’s a lot of unknowns for everyone.”

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