Hamilton feels that Mercedes lack pace

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Lewis Hamilton may have scored back-to-back podiums, but the Mercedes driver feels that his team still has a lot of work to do if they are to compete for victories this season.

Hamilton started the race from pole position, but he lost out to Fernando Alonso early on and could not keep up with the Ferrari as the Spanish driver stormed to victory in China. Instead, Hamilton battled with Kimi Raikkonen for P2, and he lost out to the Lotus driver after being undercut at the final round of stops. The British driver did manage to hold off a charging Sebastian Vettel late on, but he is still unsure where Mercedes are losing out.

“I am not really sure where we are losing out,” he explained in an interview.

“Today the overall pace was not there and there are definitely a couple of areas we can focus on on the car.

“We have some updates and need to keep improving. We have to work out where we are losing the time, try and zone in on that and improve that.”

Hamilton was still pleased with 3rd though, and the 2008 world champion praised race winner Alonso for a great victory and 2nd placed Raikkonen.

“I am quite happy with third, though I would have loved to win.

“They were a little bit too fast for us during the race. I was able to apply a little bit of pressure to Kimi but not overtake.”

The result leaves Hamilton 4th in the drivers’ championship, just 12 points behind Sebastian Vettel, and if Mercedes can produced the desired upgrades it could be a very strong year for the Briton.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.