That’s according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Hamilton will start 14th on the grid in this afternoon’s race (2.10pm) in Hockenheim after a hydraulics issue ended his qualifying session early yesterday.

It is a third setback in as many races for the four-time world champion, with the Brit and team-mate Valtteri Bottas DNF’ing in Austria before a first lap coming-together with Kimi Raikkonen took a home win away from him at Silverstone a fortnight ago.

Hamilton battled back to finish second and keep the gap to race-winner and rival Sebastian Vettel, with the German on pole today and eight points ahead in the standings.

Vettel is all but certain to build on his lead at the top of the championship although the manner in which Hamilton climbed through the grid at the British Grand Prix, having dropped to 20th at the third corner of the first lap, is encouraging.

At least that’s according to Wolff, who also admits that the Silver Arrows - who at least have Bottas starting in second - have their work cut out to catch up to Ferrari after recent races.

"That was a tough qualifying session for us, we were fighting with one hand tied behind our backs after losing Lewis' car so early in the session,” Wolff declared.

“From what we can see in the data, we had an hydraulic failure as Lewis used the Turn 1 kerbs in a normal way.

“Then, with failed power steering from the loss of hydraulic pressure, he ran wider and that's when we saw the car bouncing dramatically on the TV. 

“Clearly, this is a vulnerability we have under the high loads you see when running the kerbs, and something we must get on top of.

“It will be a tall order for Lewis to come through the field tomorrow but we saw already in Silverstone how well he can fight back. 

“For Valtteri, it was a mega final lap that put him on provisional pole, especially in the third sector, where he was fastest of everybody by a big margin. 

“But Sebastian and Ferrari were just that bit stronger than us today. 

“They were particularly strong in the middle sector and it's clear they have found a lot of power in the last races - and that we need to catch up. 

“It will be a challenging race but we saw very close matched long runs from everybody in practice [on Friday]. 

“The conditions will be cooler, so it will be interesting to see if and how that changes the competitive order.”

Hamilton has only won one of the last five races and is unlikely to make it two in six in Germany this afternoon, upping the ante against Vettel as the season approaches its mid-season break.

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