Lewis Hamilton's worst fears confirmed by Sebastian Vettel

Briton admits to lack of pace in his Mercedes as tyre problem leaves them trailing Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton believes that his Mercedes team have no chance of winning Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix after he finished this afternoon’s faster practice session here about half a second slower than pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull’s speed confirmed the Briton’s worst expectations, after he said last time out in Germany: “The way things are, I expect Pirelli’s revised tyres to suit the Red Bull. Everything always seems to.”

Mercedes knew they would struggle here, having been banned from the recent test session at Silverstone as the FIA’s punishment for the illegal test they conducted with Pirelli back in May. But today they were able to assess the scale of the new mountain they have been left to climb.

“We don’t seem to have the pace that we had at the last race, but we’ll make some changes tonight and try to  understand it,” Hamilton said. “We came into the weekend on the back foot trying to understand the tyres, and we did a lot of laps today. We’ve learned quite a lot, we’ve made some changes, and we can make some  better changes for tomorrow. But…”

He was encouraged that on race pace over long runs this afternoon his lap times were competitive with Red Bull’s Mark Webber but with 40C ambient temperature expected on raceday, and Mercedes’ history of eating its tyres, neither he nor team-mate Nico Rosberg are sanguine about their chances.

“Red Bull looked very, very good today,” Rosberg said. “I don’t think we have the speed this weekend. The hotter it is, the worse it is for us and the more we’re going to struggle. And this is likely to be the hottest race of the year. It’s going to be tough.”

Hamilton agreed. “Ferrari are  competitive, there’s Lotus and then the Red Bull is absolutely ballistic,” he said.

Vettel admitted he was surprised by his speed, as he ended the day 0.44sec ahead of Webber. “I think it’s too early to tell. First practice and second practice were very good for us, which I think is a bit of a surprise,” he said. “You try to do what you can and you don’t know where the others are, but I think tomorrow will be closer and we have to make sure we get everything out of the car. But it’s nice when you feel in control of the car and you can play around, and I think ours really suits the track.”

Webber added: “Generally we focused on ourselves today and did a pretty good job, I must say. We had a bit of traffic I think, but apart from that it was pretty smooth, to be honest. In the end we kept our head down, shifted away at our own agenda and we don’t have a huge amount to go through tonight as the car ran seamlessly. That is a nice bonus in terms of data to process.”

Lotus may be the dark horse again tomorrow, however, and though he had a trying day Kimi Raikkonen was pleased to see team-mate Romain Grosjean get closest to the Red Bulls, with a lap just 0.153sec slower than Vettel.

“I think we’ve always been a bit more happy when it’s more warm,” he said of Lotus’s most acknowledged strength. “Now it’s a bit difficult to say with the new – or different – tyres than we raced at the beginning of the year but last year helped us and the tyres should be a mix of this year and last year so let’s hope that it works well for us.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea