The seven-time F1 world champion was eliminated in Q2 ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, having previously scored eight pole positions in Melbourne. He missed out on the top 10 shootout to team-mate George Russell by 0.05 seconds.

Hamilton speculated the “spike” of promise shown in final practice earlier on Saturday had been undone by increased winds for qualifying that put the W15 challenger on a “knife edge.”

This temperamentality with the car put him in mind of its two ground-effect predecessors, which proved similarly unpredictable.

“Every outing you learn something new,” said Hamilton. “FP3 felt really good for us, and I felt really optimistic going into qualifying but then, I don’t know if it’s the wind picking up, the wind picked up quite a bit, same as yesterday, and then the car is just so much more on a knife edge.

“It’s three years in a row with a similar feeling,” he added. “But then there’s these spikes of ‘Oh, it could be good’ like this morning. And then it kind of disappears.

“If we can work a way of finding that goodness in the car and making it more consistent and holding onto that, maybe we can be more competitive. But there’s a lot of work we need to do but everyone’s working as hard as they can. “

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton initially struggled to match Russell in the qualifying head-to-head during their first season as team-mates in 2022.

But it eventually came to light that this was partly owed to Hamilton running with extreme set-up variations in a bid to troubleshoot the porpoising W13.

With the pair opting for different tunes again in Australia, when asked by if history was repeating itself, Hamilton said that he was indeed attempting something similar.

“In 2022, we weren’t splitting [set-ups]” Hamilton explained. “George was doing one thing. I was trying every set-up there was to try and help the team find options and figure out how we could fix it.

“It’s pretty much the same, a little bit similar to this year. I’ve tried lots of different things. But I think this weekend we’re much closer.”

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