Hamilton will not be able to hold off Ferrari and Red Bull in dry conditions

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he expects to lose ground if Saturday’s sprint race in China is held in dry conditions, after qualifying second in the rain.

Hamilton was one of the best performers of the wet final qualifying segment in SQ3, finishing second.

The seven-time world champion said his car “came to life” in the wet conditions but is realistic about its potential if Saturday’s sprint takes place in dry conditions.

“It was quite difficult conditions. There wasn’t a lot of grip for everyone, but I’m happy,” Hamilton told F1 TV.

“As soon as I saw that it was raining, I was happy because in dry conditions we are not fast enough. So when it rained, I thought I would have a little better chance and that’s when everything came alive.”

“If it goes like that [in the sprint race], then we have a chance to be somewhere higher. If it’s dry, then naturally Ferrari and Red Bull will come. Maybe we can keep some of the others.”

On the other hand, the Mercedes boss was a little more optimistic about their chances on Saturday, but warned that due to a sprint format practice, there is limited data on the standings.

“They should have the pace in the dry [conditions],” Wolff told Sky F1. “I don’t think we have the pace against the Red Bulls, but we do, I think, against McLaren.”

“Having said that, we also don’t know. Since we don’t have data from the 1st training session, it is possible that they are also much faster or vice versa,” he added.