Hamilton reckons Q3 will again be his biggest challenge vs. the Red Bulls. (LAT photo)
Lewis Hamilton thinks it only a matter of time before his McLaren team gets an understanding of why rival Red Bull Racing is so quick in qualifying.
The fact that Red Bull's RB6 is so dominant in qualifying, but cannot transform the extent of its advantage into the race, has left rival teams scratching their heads about what the team is doing. Initial suspicions that Red Bull was running some form of mechanical active ride proved unfounded, with teams now focusing on tire preparation and use – especially on the softest rubber.
Hamilton has no doubts that some of Red Bull's advantage is helped by the downforce advantage that Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel enjoy, but he thinks that does not provide the whole answer.
"It is a difficult thing to explain," said Hamilton in Monaco. "I don't think there is anything wrong with Q3 from our side, but they [Red Bull] are obviously doing something that enables them to do that time.
"In Q1 and Q2 we are a lot closer and then in Q3 we do everything the same, but clearly there is some kind of trick or something going on. I think bit by bit we will figure it out and I just have to keep doing the job I did at the last race."
Hamilton believes the onus is on his team to seek the improvements that will allow McLaren to get on terms with Red Bull in qualifying.
"We need to find it as a team -- it is downforce, pure downforce," he said. "It is not for me to go and find it. The guys in the team have to go and find it, and that is what they are working very hard to do. It is not easy to just find.
"They have got a lot more downforce than us in certain areas of the track, which gives them a big, big advantage. Nine tenths of a second is huge and I am driving right at the limit. There is no more I can get out of it, or we can get out of it through setup. It is just downforce."
However, Hamilton thinks the fact that even in Spain, where Red Bull enjoyed its biggest advantage of the season so far, he was able to split the two RB6s in the race was reason to feel positive about his plight.
"It was a solid qualifying session for me, but then in the race I know I am going to be strong, I know how to look after my tires," he said.
"People often write that I am very aggressive with my tires and it is actually quite the opposite. When Bridgestone come to us afterward and tell us how we are doing, I am usually midway to one of the softest guys on the tires. So I know how to look after my tires and look after the wear of the rears and the front. So that is probably why I am able to keep the pace in the races."