SPIELBERG, Austria -- Lewis Hamilton believes he could have qualified among the top three drivers on Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix had he not made a rare error and crashed in the final session.
Hamilton lost the rear of his car in the middle of Turn 7 before skating across the gravel and making heavy contact with the barrier.
The crash means he will start tenth in Saturday's sprint race -- the result of which will set the grid for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
"I'm OK," Hamilton said after the session. "It was a big hit, but I'm OK.
"I'm incredibly disappointed in myself, ultimately. I'm so sorry to the team, everyone worked so hard to put this car together and I never like to damage it or bring it back damaged.
"We were fighting for a top three I think, and I don't have an answer for what happened. I just lost the back end in Turn 7 and that was that."
After showing promising pace at the British Grand Prix last weekend, Hamilton is confident he can move up the order in Saturday's sprint.
"I'm encouraged, for sure," he said. "I am encouraged of course to see our performance, we were not expecting to be as close as that today so that's a huge positive from the team.
"But I'm really quite far back, so I don't know what's possible from there but we have a sprint race as well so I hope that tomorrow I can make up some lost time."
Teammate George Russell also crashed out of qualifying, but will start fifth after setting a lap time in Q3 before his accident.
Asked if he'd had a lucky escape by securing fifth on the grid in a session in which he crashed out, Russell said: "I wouldn't say a lucky escape, we need to review the crash damage and there's nothing lucky or fortunate about making a mistake like that.
"It could have been P4 -- I was a tenth up on my lap and absolutely went for it because I thought there was an opportunity for third. As it turned out, probably not.
"We just need to see how much damage is done so sorry to the team and the guys in the garage."