Max Verstappen has rejected Lewis Hamilton's complaints about Mercedes' W13 car, saying George Russell's early successes with the team show it is "not all horrific".

Verstappen claimed his second victory of the 2022 campaign at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out, with Sergio Perez following him home to ensure Red Bull's first one-two since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Seven-time champion Hamilton, meanwhile, has struggled since losing the title to Verstappen in the closing seconds of 2021's final race in Abu Dhabi, and was lapped by the Red Bull driver at Imola as he toiled to a 13th-place finish.

On Thursday, Hamilton repeated criticism of his team's car, comparing it to his struggles in the 2009 season when he finished fifth, telling The Race: "There are people that watch and say I've never had a bad car, and I can assure you that I have. 2009's car was very, very far off – the worst car that I've had. This car currently is not far off that experience."

But Hamilton's new team-mate Russell is yet to finish outside the top five since joining Mercedes, which Verstappen says is evidence the team's car is not as bad as Hamilton claims.

The reigning world champion, however, denied that he enjoyed lapping Hamilton in Italy, claiming he was simply focusing on his own race.

"To be honest, it wasn't something I was enjoying at the time," he told the Telegraph ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. "I was just focused on my race, on getting through the traffic as cleanly as possible and winning. 

"It wasn't like I was saying, 'Oh, I'm lapping Lewis, what an amazing feeling'. I had great battles with Lewis last year. Now he's in a car which is not so great.

"Having said that, of course, George does finish fourth in that car [at Imola]. So, it is not all horrific, right?

"I'd say [Hamilton's] car had quite a bit more pace than the midfield traffic. But yeah, it was hard to pass. I mean also when there was only one dry line and when you don't have, let's say, a top speed advantage anymore. 

"It makes it a lot harder to judge how far Lewis was off George. But clearly the whole weekend George was doing really well." 

Verstappen sits second in the drivers' standings after Red Bull's erratic start to the season, in which the Dutch driver has posted two victories but failed to finish twice. 

Lewis Hamilton believes Formula One's popularity in the United States is "booming" ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday.

Miami's first Grand Prix will take place later this week after the Miami International Autodrome agreed a 10-year contract to stage the race, meaning the United States will host two events in the 2022 season, with Austin, Texas hosting the United States Grand Prix in October, while a Las Vegas Grand Prix will be introduced next year.

Hamilton, who holds the record for most wins in Austin (six), has struggled at the outset of the new campaign, sitting seventh in the driver's standings after finishing a disappointing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

In an interview with ABC'S Good Morning America, the seven-time drivers' champion said he was excited to be participating in the USA, highlighting the role of Netflix's 'Drive to Survive' documentary series in boosting the sport's stateside popularity.

"It's a bit nerve-racking because I think it's going to be a huge event for us," he said. "We obviously had the race in Austin, Texas, which has always been amazing. The first race I had out here was Indianapolis in 2007.

"But now, with Netflix's Drive to Survive series growing, we have two Grands Prix in the States and we have another one in Las Vegas next year, it's going to be huge.

"I've been coming out here for a long time, but never understood why people weren't into Formula One.

"Everyone knew NASCAR, and obviously there are such huge sporting fans out here and this Netflix show, particularly through the pandemic, has just brought massive awareness to the sport, and now it's booming."

Meanwhile, the 37-year-old used his appearance on the show to highlight the launch of his Mission 44 Foundation, which aims to "support, champion and empower young people from underrepresented groups to succeed through narrowing opportunity gaps across society."

Hamilton said his experience of working in Formula One, an industry in which ethnic minority groups remain severely underrepresented, motivated the foundation's mission.

"It's been generally quite a lonely journey. It's been me and my family. We're the only black family [in the sport]," he added.

"I've been racing 29 years. I'm 37 now, but I've been professional for 16 years. I've most often been the only person of colour in the room and when I asked the question [why], there was no great feedback or answer to that.

"So we've now started Mission 44, which I've funded myself, to try and create more representation and support and empowerment for these young, underserved groups."

Despite out-driving his famous Mercedes team-mate early in the season, George Russell has nothing but praise for seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, 37, got off to a solid start in Bahrain after qualifying fifth and sneaking onto the podium when both Red Bull cars were retired, but his fourth-placed finish in Australia is sandwiched by crossing the line 10th in Saudi Arabia and a disappointing 13th in Imola.

Meanwhile, Russell has finished no worse than fifth in any race, despite having a best starting position of sixth, both in Australia and Saudi Arabia.

It means Russell occupies fourth position in the driver standings, just 10 points away from Max Verstappen in second, while Hamilton is back in seventh.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Russell said he has no doubts about the "inspiring" Hamilton's quality, and his likelihood of returning to form.

"Lewis has clearly got the pace," he said. "He's incredibly fast, and he's showed that so far this year, but it's just been tricky for us as a team to get it done when the time is needed.

"When things have been more stable, Lewis has still been massively fast.

"I know there was a bit of a blip last weekend, but I have no doubt he's going to come back, and the way he's pushing the team and motivating the team is truly inspiring.

"We all want more. He wants more. Nobody is happy with the position we're in currently."

While Russell acknowledged that some of the team's problems have been out of the drivers' hands, he said they are issues he is also having to combat, and that his time at Williams has prepared him to make the most out of difficult situations.

"We are equally struggling," he said. "When the car is so far out of bed and it's not in the right window, it doesn't really feel like a proper racing car to drive.

"Perhaps with my struggles at Williams, with very difficult cars, maybe that's helped in some small regard.

"But Lewis will come back stronger, I have no doubt. He's definitely going to be pushing me all the way.

"I'm not getting comfortable in this position because I know what he's capable of."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff commended his young star, and stressed his team is determined to provide their drivers with cars they can compete with.

"I'm very impressed with how [Russell has] settled in," he said. "How professionally and analytically he is helps us to assess the situation.

"The combination [of Russell and Hamilton], that's one of the very few highlights I have at the moment on our journey – the two of them work together with no friction. On the contrary, it is very, very productive and positive for the team and I couldn't be happier with the driver line-up.

"We have two of maybe the three best drivers, and they deserve a car and a power unit that makes them fight in the front rather than being lapped. That's not what any of them deserves."

Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko could not help but add insult to injury following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday, suggesting Lewis Hamilton should have retired at the end of last season.

The seven-time Formula One world champion finished out of the points in 13th position at Imola and to compound the misery, was lapped by rival Max Verstappen, who went on to win the race in a one-two for Red Bull.

Mercedes have struggled to come to grips with porpoising as a result of new regulations this season, but Hamilton's form is in stark contrast to that of team-mate George Russell, who sits 21 points ahead in the driver's standings and finished fourth on Sunday.

When asked how Hamilton might be feeling after Imola, Marko could not resist.

"I mean, he was lapped by us, so I don't know," Marko told Sky Sports F1. "Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year,"

Verstappen played down the gravity of Hamilton being lapped, however, saying it's a natural consequence of the disparity in performance between the Red Bull and Mercedes packages.

"They've been slow all year so for me it's not really anything exciting, it just happens," he said.

Verstappen's win at Imola was an assured drive, the Dutchman untroubled from pole to finish. With Carlos Sainz out on the opening lap, Red Bull were able to put second-placed Sergio Perez on a different strategy to force Ferrari's hand with championship leader Charles Leclerc.

The reigning world champion moved to second place in the driver's standings on 59 points, 27 points behind Leclerc, who recovered from a spin on lap 53 to finish sixth.

Marko asserted the one-two was a critical result from the standpoints of team morale and the championship, following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia.

"It was very important after our problems in Bahrain and Australia from the engine side…another one-two, the last one was 2016 in Malaysia," Marko said.

"It was about time, for the morale and everything it's more than important. It showed that we are competitive, we just have to get the package together and then we are there.

"There are so many races coming, the important thing is that we have such a strong package, so the championship will be very exciting but hopefully it doesn't go the last race like last year."

Lewis Hamilton scotched any suggestion he might still challenge for the Formula One drivers' title after an Imola nightmare on Sunday. 

The seven-time champion placed 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and was lapped by race winner Max Verstappen, leaving him a distant seventh in the 2022 standings after four races. 

Hamilton's former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg questioned team principal Toto Wolff's assertion that it was the car, rather than the driver, that had been the dominant factor in the British star struggling. 

Given Hamilton's team-mate George Russell finished a creditable fourth, Rosberg believes Wolff chose his words carefully in an effort to gee up his lead driver. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said it had been "a weekend to forget, that's for sure". 

When asked about title prospects and the possibility of fighting his way back into contention, Hamilton said: "I am out of the championship, for sure. There's no question about that. But I will still keep working as hard as I can and try and somehow pull it back together somehow." 

Rosberg raced for Mercedes from 2010 to 2016, pipping Hamilton to the title in his final year with the team before driving off into retirement. 

Wolff described the Mercedes as "undriveable" as he spoke to Hamilton over team radio at the end of Sunday's race in Italy, saying it was not fit for a world champion. 

But Rosberg, also speaking to Sky Sports, believes that was a case of clever politics from the Mercedes team chief. 

"Here, Toto was playing the mental game which is very smart on his behalf again, taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally. Lifting him up and saying that it wasn't Lewis' doing, it's on us," Rosberg said. 

"It's very smart because it's not quite the truth and let's not forget that Russell is in P4 with that same car, so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result this weekend." 

Rosberg believes there was "more in that car" than Hamilton has been able to find. 

He added: "It's so important that Lewis keeps that motivation through the whole season, it's important for the team and it's quite easy for Lewis to lose it in these kinds of situations." 

Lewis Hamilton received an apology from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after finishing a sorry 13th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Seven-time Formula One king Hamilton was told by Wolff his car had been "undriveable", and "not worthy for a world champion".

Wolff also said it had been "a terrible race" for the team. That was despite George Russell faring rather better than team-mate Hamilton, coming home in fourth position to collect points.

Hamilton wound up empty-handed and sits seventh in the championship with 28 points from the first four races of the season, already 21 points behind Russell and 58 adrift of leader Charles Leclerc.

To boot on Sunday, there was the embarrassment of Hamilton being lapped by Max Verstappen on lap 40, a sign of the times in their rivalry.

In an exchange over team radio at the end of the race, Silver Arrows team principal Wolff told Hamilton: "Sorry for what you have needed to drive today.

"I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result. So we will move from there, but this was a terrible race."

Hamilton replied: "Yeah, no worries, Toto. Let's keep working hard."

Mercedes face a major challenge to match the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars this season, with the next race a fortnight away in Miami.

"We will come out of this," Wolff said.

Speaking later to Sky Sports, Wolff said it had been a "really bad" result for Hamilton.

"He got squeezed by the Alpine, the other two cars undercut and there's just no overtaking when you're in a DRS train," Wolff said.

"We saw from George what the car can do in free air, but we are not good enough for a world champion, not worthy for a world champion. We just need to fix the car.

"I think we are going to look at things for Miami. I think we can make a step in the understanding of the car. It's another day, we just really need to understand more and bring development to the car which will fix the bouncing."

A frustrated Lewis Hamilton said "each weekend is a rescue" after Mercedes' dismal start to the Formula One season continued with a disappointing qualifying session ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton finished 13th during an incident-strewn, weather-affected afternoon at Imola on Friday, missing out on Q1.

Mercedes team-mate George Russell, meanwhile, will be in 11th for Saturday's sprint race, which Max Verstappen will start at the front of the grid.

It is the first time Mercedes have had both cars fail to progress from Q2 since the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.

They were unfortunate, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz crashing as rain started to fall to end the session prematurely, though it seemed unlikely the Silver Arrows would have made it into Q3 regardless.

Mercedes sit second in the constructors' standings after the opening three races of the season but are 39 points adrift of leaders Ferrari, whose championship-leading Charles Leclerc will start alongside Verstappen on the front row on Saturday.

Red Bull, meanwhile, are just 10 points behind Mercedes, and Hamilton lamented a difficult day on the track.

"It wasn't a great session," the seven-time world champion told Sky Sports. "Came here with optimism and everyone is working hard at the factory, but it is disappointing.

"I think we underperformed as a team today. There are things we should have done, but we didn't. We will work as hard as we can to move up in the sprint race.

"We will just keep working. It is what it is. Each weekend is a rescue."

Reigning champion Verstappen, meanwhile, secured his first pole position of the season, albeit he needs to maintain that in the sprint race to start at the front on Sunday.

He said: "It was tricky out there with the dry/rain. It was very slippery. It was hectic, a long qualifying but of course in the end happy to be here. It is an amazing track and it really punishes you if you make a mistake.

"I am really pleased with pole. It will be different weather at the weekend but a good start.

"Our first three races didn't go to plan, but we will try to have a good weekend here."

Lando Norris spun into the barriers to end Q3 – and the session as a whole – early, but the McLaren driver will start in third place on Saturday.

"I am happy I am top three which is quite a surprise for us," Norris said. "There was a chance at least for us to go forwards even more. The car was feeling good and I was feeling confident. A shame it ended like that, but I am happy.

Leclerc, meanwhile, rued making an error in Q3 as he had to settle for second.

"It was very tricky, especially on the slicks. There were quite a lot of wet patches, and it was all about putting the laps in and waiting for Q3 to put it together," Leclerc explained. "It is frustrating because when it counts in Q3 I made the wrong choice."

Thomas Tuchel declared himself a big fan of Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton after the superstar pair joined a consortium bidding to buy Chelsea.

British motorsport star Hamilton, 37, has earned nearly $500million in his Formula One career, while American tennis great Williams has also acquired major wealth while landing 23 grand slam singles titles.

They will reportedly be chipping in $10m each to Martin Broughton's consortium and have been "constantly in touch", Hamilton said, about the prospect of being part of a successful quest to acquire the Premier League club.

Hamilton, despite being an Arsenal fan, said businessman Broughton's ambitions for Chelsea were "incredibly exciting, and very much aligned with my values".

Chelsea head coach Tuchel said on Friday: "I just heard it, I just got a briefing and heard it.

"I can tell you no more than I'm a big admirer of both of them. They are fantastic personalities on the court and the racetrack.

"They are outstanding sports figures in what they do, for which they have my biggest respect, but I have absolutely no insight in the role they're playing."

Chelsea's long-time owner Roman Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, announced his intentions to sell the Premier League club earlier in March.

Lewis Hamilton is excited to be a part of Martin Broughton's consortium looking to purchase Chelsea.

Hamilton, 37, has earned nearly $500million in his Formula 1 career, and is teaming up with a number of wealthy businessmen and women – including Serena Williams – as one of three remaining bids for the club.

Hamilton and Williams will reportedly be chipping in $10m each in the offer, after plenty of discussion between the two sporting legends, as well as personal phone calls from Broughton.

Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy, Hamilton was overjoyed at the prospect of being involved with football at the highest level, and said his allegiance to Arsenal is no hindrance.

"I’ve been a football fan since I was a kid," he said. "I played since I was a kid, from four to 17 in teams every year.

"I played every year through childhood and went to numerous games, when I was young. I used to play football as a kid around the corner and I really wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of colour there.

"All the kids supported someone different, and I switched between these teams, and when I’d get home my sister would hit me, saying you have to support Arsenal. At five, six years old I supported Arsenal, but my uncle Terry is a big Blues fan, so I’ve been to so many games to watch Chelsea and Arsenal play. 

"Ultimately, [I’m] a sporting fan and Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in the world. When I heard about this I thought, ‘Wow – what a great opportunity to be a part of'."

Hamilton went on to discuss his role in Williams' decision, confirming the two had discussed it together.

"We did speak about it, we were constantly in touch," he said. "She asked me my thoughts, and I told her I’ll be a part of it, and she decided to join.

"We were contacted and Sir Martin spoke to me on the phone, explaining his and his team’s goals if they were to win the bid – which was incredibly exciting, and very much aligned with my values. 

"When I was younger I was trying to actually play for a team – I tried out for Stevenage – but I ended up following racing. I could have only ever dreamed of being a part of the team, so that’s for me the most exciting thing."

Lewis Hamilton remains staunch in his stance against the FIA's jewellery ban, with the seven-time world champion insisting "you should be able to be who you are".

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, informed Formula One drivers that the ruling on accessories would be reinforced before the Australian Grand Prix.

Wittich suggested "body piercing or metal neck chains" were forbidden, with checks to be undertaken before races, but Hamilton still competed on Sunday with piercings in both ears and a nose stud.

The 37-year-old could, in theory, be penalised both financially and in terms of points for breaking the sporting code, with F1's race director insisting the rules were to prevent injury for the driver.

However, Hamilton – who finished fourth in Melbourne, one place behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell – does not intend on removing his jewellery.

"I don't have any plans on removing them," he said. "I feel they are personal things. You should be able to be who you are. There's stuff that I can't move.

"I literally can't take these out [gesturing to piercings on his right ear]. They're literally welded on so I'd have to get them chopped off or something. So they'll be staying.

"It's been the rule forever. Since I've been here it's been the rule, so there's nothing new. I'm just going to come with more jewellery next week."

The jewellery ban has been in place since 2004, but Wittich made a special effort to stress the rule was back into strong consideration in his pre-race notes in Melbourne.

While Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff praised the work of the new race director thus far, he questioned whether Wittich needed to pick a problem with what he sees as a minute issue.

"How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn't put a single foot wrong," Wolff said, as reported by PA Media.

"But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over."

Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes must "leave no stone unturned" in their quest for improvements after he battled to a fourth-place finish at the Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion has endured a frustrating start to the 2022 campaign, sitting fifth in the drivers' championship standings and repeatedly speaking out on problems with the team's W13 car.

Hamilton batlled to fourth in the third Grand Prix of the season after starting fifth on the grid, with team-mate George Russell claiming his first podium finish for Mercedes in third as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc stormed to victory.

After describing Mercedes' car as "spiteful" in the aftermath of qualifying in Melbourne, Hamilton stressed the need for the team to make improvements in "every single area" if they are to compete with early-season pace-setters Ferrari.

"I will be on Zoom calls with our bosses, really trying to rally them up," he said.

"We have got some improvements that we need to make, and we need everyone's support in doing so.

"It is about making sure we leave no stone unturned, that the hunger is there, and we are maximising every moment.

"I will be chasing the people in the wind tunnel, the aerodynamic guys, and just looking at every single area.

"There is performance to be gained and we need it now, not in two or three races. I have got to keep that encouragement and energy high."

Mercedes are bidding for a ninth consecutive constructors' championship, but trail Ferrari by 39 points in the 2022 standings after three races.

While calling for improvements across the board and noting that the gap to Ferrari is "pretty big", Hamilton stressed the need for the team to remain upbeat and highlighted that there are many races to come.

"I prefer to stay optimistic," he added. "There are 20 races to go. 

"I am really hoping we can get in the fight, but with every bit of improvement we make so will Red Bull and Ferrari. 

"It is not going to be easy. The gap is pretty big right now, but there is a long way to go."

Russell, meanwhile, is second in the drivers' standings after following up his fourth and fifth-place finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia with an impressive showing at Albert Park, and Hamilton was keen to praise the 24-year-old for his performances since making the switch from Williams.

"It is incredible," Hamilton said of the start Russell has made to his Mercedes career.

"He has been so solid. He is really grafting away and is doing an amazing job."

The next date in the Formula One calendar will see Hamilton bid for a repeat of his 2020 triumph at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, after he finished second to Max Verstappen at Imola last year.

Max Verstappen says Red Bull are "already miles behind" after the reigning world champion suffered a second DNF of the 2022 Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman had sat second throughout the race at Albert Park and had closed the gap on eventual race winner and championship rival Charles Leclerc amid a safety car deployment.

But a mechanical failure saw him forced to retire once again after he also failed to see out the season opener in Bahrain, with the Ferrari of Leclerc leading home from Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez and Mercedes' George Russell.

It is the second time in three races Verstappen has been blighted by problems beyond his control, and he bemoaned that he cannot think about defending his crown right now.

"We're already miles behind," he stated. "I don't want to think about the title fight, I just want to finish races.

"It's frustrating and unacceptable. These kinds of things if you want to fight for the title cannot happen."

Team principal Christian Horner voiced his own disappointment to Sky Sports afterwards too, adding: "We don't know what the issue is yet. I don't think it is engine related.

"I think it might be a fuel issue but we need to get the car back and look at exactly what has happened.

"[It's] desperately frustrating. We didn't have the pace to race Charles today. They were in a league of their own but frustrating not to bag those points."

One beneficiary of Verstappen's exit was Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, with the seven-time world champion completing a second-row lockout for the Silver Arrows after his struggles this year.

"We definitely didn't expect to be third and fourth," the Briton added to Sky Sports. "George did a great job today. We'll take these points and keep pushing.

"I couldn't fight for third as the engine kept overheating. I had to back off. We bagged as many points as we could for the team and that's great."

Charles Leclerc extended his championship lead by winning the Australian Grand Prix and Max Verstappen retired for the second time in three races on Sunday.

Ferrari driver Leclerc led from start to finish at Albert Park to secure his second victory of the season, with Sergio Perez finishing second and George Russell third.

World champion Verstappen pulled over on lap 39 of 58, while Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz - who started the day second in the driver standings - spun off early in the race after starting back in ninth spot.

Leclerc got off to a good start and Lewis Hamilton moved up from fifth to third behind world champion Verstappen.

The safety car was deployed when Sainz found himself in the gravel after losing control on lap three, with Leclerc extending his advantage as Perez used the DRS to overtake Hamilton.

Verstappen pitted for hard tyres on lap 19 and the safety car was out again when Sebastian Vettel retired, giving Russell the opportunity to pit and remain in third place.

Leclerc fended off Verstappen when the race restarted and that was as close as the Dutchman came to taking the lead before he pulled over due to another issue with his Red Bull.

Monegasque Leclerc was untroubled, easing to a second win in three races and put the icing on the cake by clocking the fastest lap.

Leclerc finished over 20 seconds ahead of Perez, with Russell securing a podium spot and Hamilton crossing the line in fourth spot.

Lewis Hamilton described the temperament of his Mercedes as that of "a viper, or a rattlesnake" after qualifying fifth for the Australian Grand Prix.

The seven-time Formula One champion recognised a significant shift in performance as he finished just ahead of team-mate George Russell, with both Mercedes cars starting on the third row for Sunday's race.

That is a welcome boost to the team, after Hamilton was eliminated in Q1 last time out in Saudi Arabia.

This time, both cars safely made it through to the third round of qualifying, and Hamilton said it was "nice to be back up there" as he and Mercedes looks to challenge early-season pace-setters Ferrari.

"Jeddah was really, really, really tough, to be so far back and not really be able to make progress," Hamilton said.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said the Mercedes team had worked through the night in an effort to draw the best possible lap from the car.

And he claimed there could be better still to come, but the danger lies in pushing too hard.

"I feel like with my lap today there was a little bit more in the car," Hamilton said. "I'm naturally also gutted I wasn't able to extract that little bit.

"But the problem is when you push that car a little bit more, she's quite spiteful. She's like a viper, or like a rattlesnake, you never know."

Hamilton has complained about the W13 car bouncing during the early weeks of the season, and that remains an issue.

He was almost a full second behind Ferrari pole-sitter Charles Leclerc in Q3 on Saturday at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, meaning there remains a significant gap in performance.

"We just have to try to find a level of the bouncing as hardcore as we can go, without rattling our brains out of our skulls, and that's what we try to do," Hamilton said.

"[Russell] and I have slightly different cars because we're trying all different things. I've got something in my car that makes the car a little bit heavier.

"Hopefully it will enable the team to gain more information from the race tomorrow. I hope from that we can start making some progress."

Hamilton has previously taken eight pole positions at Albert Park, matching the all-time record for any F1 circuit. Eight poles has also been previously achieved by Michael Schumacher at Suzuka, Ayrton Senna at Imola and Hamilton himself at Hungaroring.

Qualifying success has not typically translated to success on race day for Hamilton in Australia, however, as he has only recorded two wins at Albert Park, in the 2008 and 2015 seasons.

Max Verstappen admits he is still finding it a "struggle" to drive his Red Bull after being pipped to pole for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix by Charles Leclerc.

Championship leader Leclerc outpaced Verstappen with his final lap of a dramatic qualifying session in Melbourne on Saturday to ensure he will start at the top of the grid.

The Ferrari driver, who has finished first and second in the opening two races of 2022, posted 1:17.868 late on in Q3 to finish 0.286s ahead of Verstappen.

"It feels great and very happy to be starting on pole," Leclerc said. "Again, we were quite surprised by our pace in qualifying, so we will see what happens.

"Overall, I'm very happy because it's a track where I've always struggled in the past and I've struggled this weekend.

"You probably couldn't see from outside because we were quite fast, but I was struggling quite a lot with mistakes, being inconsistent.

"I really worked on that to try to put a good lap together in Q3. I knew it was just all about putting it together and I managed to do it in Q3, so I'm very happy."

Verstappen was edged out by Leclerc in a thrilling Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago and is third in the drivers' standings, with Carlos Sainz occupying second place.

Leclerc's Ferrari team-mate Sainz will start Sunday's race down in ninth, however, after being caught by red flags that were brought out following a crash for Fernando Alonso.

Red Bull's Verstappen will therefore have a chance to climb the standings this weekend, but the Dutchman is not entirely pleased with how the weekend has gone thus far.

"I would have hoped to start first, but we have to accept where we finish, but the whole weekend has been a bit tricky for me," he said.

"I've never really found a stable grip whether it's front or rear and that's just not nice. For me, that's really been the case all year.

"I've never found a comfortable balance where I could attack corners, especially in qualifying and that's a big limitation – it's something very new for me in the last three years.

"Of course, I'm talking like I'm P18, but I think we have a lot of potential in the car we're not showing and I think that's a bit of a shame.

"But I expect it to be tight [on Sunday]. Maybe Ferrari will find something, but I hope not and hopefully we can have a good battle again."

 

Despite his complaints, it is Verstappen's first front row start at Albert Park as he seeks just a second podium finish in six appearances Down Under.

Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez finished third in qualifying, though that will be reviewed as he is under investigation.

That is due to the Mexican failing to slow for double waved flags after Lance Stroll inadvertently turned into Nicholas Latifi, with both drivers blaming each other for the crash.

Perez, who could only finish four in Jeddah last time out after claiming pole – the first Mexican to ever do so – was more upbeat than Verstappen.

"It felt good. Q1, Q2 things were going good. With all the red flags, it's always very hard to keep the momentum going," he said.

"I regret a bit the decision to go into Q3 with our strategy on the tyres, but I think P3 is a decent start for tomorrow."

Elsewhere in Saturday's qualifying session, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who has taken a record eight poles in Australia, finished fifth, narrowly behind McLaren's Lando Norris.

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