Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton wary of Q2 knockout in Spain

MONTMELO, Spain -- Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton is concerned he might not make the top 10 in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix after he finished Friday's practice sessions 11th fastest.

After he finished fourth in Monaco last weekend, there was a sense of optimism around Mercedes' chances at this weekend's race at the Circuit Barcelona Catalunya.

The former champions brought a major upgrade to the car for last weekend's street race in Monaco and was hoping to get a better understanding of its performance at this weekend's race on a permanent circuit.

However, Hamilton was 0.642s off Max Verstappen's fastest time in Friday practice, leaving him 11th in a field that was split by just over a second.

"I think from the pace that I had today it's a struggle for me currently to get into the top 10 [in qualifying], but hopefully we'll do some changes overnight," Hamilton said.

"I think it's very, very close between us and that middle bit, after P5 back to kind of P10. It's really close between us all.

"It's impressive to see the improvements that everyone seems to have made all around us.

"You look at [Esteban] Ocon, the Alpines are doing great, you saw the Aston Martin was second just right behind the Red Bull which is really, really impressive. So it's not going to be easy that's for sure."

Hamilton looked more competitive relative to Mercedes' rivals over long runs on Friday, but said the car did not feel dramatically different as a result of the recent upgrades.

"The circuit is so different from last week obviously of course," he said. "But we're just focusing ... I think the long run pace didn't look terrible, and we've just got to work on trying to figure out how we can extract more over a single lap.

"I'm just going to try and do the best job I can tonight to make the right set-up changes. There's definitely improvements I know I can make with the set-up, so I'll get on top of that."