Lewis Hamilton admitted to a lack of rhythm after qualifying third for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night, over seven-tenths of a second slower than Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton arrived in Singapore leading the drivers’ championship by two points after seeing Rosberg win the last two races in Belgium and Italy.
The Briton suffered a hydraulic issue on Friday that limited his practice running, while an error in FP3 on Saturday afternoon meant he entered qualifying without a simulation under his belt.
Hamilton finished seven-tenths of a second behind Rosberg after his first run in Q3 to sit second on the provisional grid before failing to improve on his second effort.
Daniel Ricciardo was able to find a chunk of time in the final sector that lifted him onto the front row of the grid, leaving Hamilton third for the start in Singapore after he failed to improve.
“[It] wasn’t a frustrating session. Just not been my weekend so far,” Hamilton said after qualifying.
“Not really got many good laps out there, not been able to string them together.
“Nico did a great job, he showed the true potential of the car.
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll try to get that one step up to get that front row for the team.”
Both Hamilton and Rosberg will need to remain wary of the Red Bull drivers in Sunday’s race after Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen (qualified fourth) got through Q2 on the super-soft tire.
While Mercedes may have the pace advantage on ultra-softs, the Red Bulls should be able to go further into the race before pitting by virtue of their alternate strategy.
The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.