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Hamilton intent on fighting back in Austria on Sunday

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Austrian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton was third fastest in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. But he'll be starting Sunday's race a lot further down the grid than that.

Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change during the week, meaning he will line-up in eighth place. Ahead of him will be all his major championship rivals: his team mate Valtteri Bottas on pole, and both Ferrari and both Red Bull drivers.

At this point for Hamilton, it's all about damage limitation and getting as many of those lost positions back by the chequered flag.

"I'll do the best job I can, obviously," said Hamilton after the end of qualifying. "Happy to have been third.

"Of course I'd have loved to improve my lap but it just wasn't meant to be today," he added.

Hamilton had been fastest in the first round of qualifying. He did get one last flying lap in toward the end of Q3, but made a number of small errors and backed off.

He was about to go again when there were yellow flags out for two different incidents. That meant he was unable to improve his time before the end of the session.

"Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job," Hamilton acknowledged. "He's been driving really well all weekend. And obviously Sebastian's very quick this weekend."

"I want to get up there and try and get a one-two with Valtteri," Hamilton replied when asked what his plan was for the race. "I'll do the best job I can to get higher up.

"Valtteri has been quickest all weekend, so it's not really in my mind at the moment," Hamilton added. "But I will give it everything I can and of course I will be happy if I get up there."

He has one possible tactical advantage over the rest of the field in that he's the only driver in the top ten to be starting the race on supersofts. Also a slower compound than the ultrasofts, it's thought to be better off the line and longer-lasting.

I have the supersoft for tomorrow," Hamilton confirmed. "It's generally a slower tyre than what they are on, but it can go maybe longer. We'll see."

Mercedes chairmain Niki Lauda predicted a tough day ahead for Hamilton.

"Bottas on pole, he deserved it. But Lewis, troubles," he told Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.

"He has to do a good job tomorrow, work harder than normal. We will try all we can to bring him to the front."

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