Lewis Hamilton out of Australian GP as second driver retires after Max Verstappen | F1 | Sport

The seven-time world champion was running just outside of the points behind the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll after the first round of pit stops, but his afternoon was cut short just 17 laps into the race.

Hamilton had complained ahead of the weekend that Verstappen was already 43 points ahead of him in the Drivers’ Championship standings and that any hopes of a championship tilt were over.

Then, when Verstappen’s engine blew out on lap four, Mercedes were handed a golden opportunity to make significant inroads on their long-time rivals Red Bull.

However, with Hamilton out of the race before the halfway mark and George Russell struggling to make an impression on the superior Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren cars, the Silver Arrows were not in a position to seize this opportunity.

This has been a difficult weekend for Hamilton from start to finish, and the 39-year-old continued his run of failing to qualify higher than eighth place this season when he was eliminated in Q2 on Saturday.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 about his frustrations, Hamilton explained: “It felt great in P3 and it was strange because we were right there with these guys and we didn’t really understand why.

“But then going into qualifying, it’s just another inconsistency within the car, it really messes with the mind. George did a good job today. It is what it is. I just have to try to do a better job tomorrow.”

Hamilton later made an honest admission about his performance relative to team-mate Russell, adding: “I don’t know if I’m dealing with it that great, less consistent than George. George is doing a better job with our car.

“[It’s now] three qualifying in a row that he’s out-qualified me and he seems to get on along better than I do, so… yeah. Just trying to keep my head above water and continue to, realising that it could be way worse.”

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