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Lewis Hamilton likens driving 'spiteful' Mercedes car to taming a rattlesnake

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Hamilton: New changes aren't making a difference to the car (0:25)

Lewis Hamilton speaks after finishing 13th fastest in P2 of the Australian Grand Prix. (0:25)

Lewis Hamilton said driving Mercedes' underperforming Formula One car at the moment is like trying to tame a rattlesnake.

After failing to make it out of the first qualifying session in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, Hamilton turned in an improved display ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, where he will start from fifth position.

Mercedes, winners of the last eight constructors championships in F1, is still struggling with car's tendency to bounce when driving on the straight, a phenomenon known as porpoising.

Hamilton finished nearly a whole second of pole position as Mercedes continued to look a distant third behind Ferrari and Red Bull.

Despite the improved qualifying result Hamilton said the car is still a handful.

"I feel like my [qualifying] lap, there was a little bit more in the car, so that's a positive," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"But I'm also naturally gutted I wasn't able to extract that little bit but the problem is, when you push that car just a little bit more, she's quite spiteful.

"She's like a viper or a rattlesnake, you never know..."

After qualifying, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff gave a grim assessment of his team's title chances, saying he thinks the team has just a 20 percent chance of recovering from its current situation.

Hamilton's teammate George Russell said the bouncing is so extreme it is stopping them from driving at the limit.

"The biggest thing for me at the moment is still the bouncing. I've been trying all sorts of things to be on the limit of the bouncing and then it's costing me a lot of speed through the high-speed corners, that's where I lose all my laptime.

"I don't have the confidence to attack with the bouncing - it's such a unique feeling from within the car, and when the car's going up and down, and up and down, you cannot throw it into these high-speed corners. So it's tricky to find the right compromise."