Lewis Hamilton: Max Verstappen set for 'easy cruise win' in Austria

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Lewis Hamilton has said Max Verstappen is well placed for an easy win at Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver took his second pole position in a row at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday.

Verstappen, who won last weekend's Styrian Grand Prix at the same circuit, took pole by 0.048s ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris on Saturday, with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in third.

Hamilton, who finished a distant second at last weekend's race, could only manage fourth on the grid, 0.329s off the pace of his title rival Verstappen.

Asked if victory was out of the question from fourth on the grid, Hamilton said: "I would say so, yeah. In terms of pure pace, it's definitely out of the question.

"Those guys [Red Bull] firstly have two cars to get by in front. They've got three-tenths on us, I think they've improved their car again this weekend.

"I would say that's an easy cruise win for Max. I think for us, to try and see if we can get ahead of at least Perez and try to limit the damage this weekend."

Hamilton, who was fastest in Friday practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, said his Mercedes was simply lacking performance in qualifying on Saturday.

"It's more of a challenge than it was already last week and we continue to lack pace," he said.

"We've tried everything to get more out of the car but it's just the underlying pace that is where we're at at the moment, so we've got to really find performance in the following races.

"I don't know if McLaren have brought an upgrade but they're mega quick today so great job from Lando. We've just got to try and improve."