Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes was brought back to reality at Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix after his pole position on Saturday.

Hamilton claimed his first pole position since 2021 after edging Max Verstappen by three-thousandths of a second but his grid advantage lasted mere moments after a slow getaway.

Hamilton was also overhauled by the McLaren drivers at the first corner, dropping to fourth, before relinquishing another spot to the recovering Sergio Perez.

Hamilton went on to pass Oscar Piastri, and closed in on Perez during the final stint, but had to settle for fourth place.

“It’s obvious we’re not the quickest, we don’t have the quickest car,” said Hamilton.

“I’m really proud of myself and the job that we did yesterday to get pole position to out-perform the world champion and the other two cars [McLaren] that were quicker than us. 

“Today… is just reality. The reality is we are not fast enough. [The team] already told me in strategy this morning I would be at least five tenths slower than the Red Bull so the fight is not with Max.

“We were hoping we could fight the McLarens but the McLaren was too quick.”

Explaining his race, Hamilton said: “My initial getaway wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had but it wasn’t as good as the others. I ran wide and also got done by the McLarens.

“After that, I didn’t have the pace to keep up with those ahead. The balance of the car didn’t feel great in the first stint, and I had a lot of understeer, to snap oversteer, and problems with through-corner balance.

“As the stints progressed, the car started to become more driveable, and the final stint was much better. The pace we had at the end was very strong and if we had had that throughout, we would have had a much better day.”

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