Lewis Hamilton came off second best to his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for Sunday's Eifel Grand Prix.

But he seemed even more concerned that the team had deviated from its initial strategy of trying to see out Q2 on the medium tyres, switching instead to the soft compound for their second, faster runs.

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That means both drivers will start tomorrow's race on the red-walled tyres. While they offer better grip in the cold conditions, they will degrade quicker than their medium counterparts would have done.

"I could have got through on that tyre," Hamilton said after the end of the session. "I wanted to start on it just because I always like to do something different.

"We're all in the same boat [starting on the softs]. I don't really know how far the tyres will go, but when it gets a bit cooler, generally they can go a bit further."

While Hamilton had almost certainly done enough to get through to the final round with his initial run, Bottas was further back and under pressure.

It meant the team feared that other drivers improving on their second runs could leave both of their cars facing the very real risk of elimination.

"The team chose for us to both be on the same tyre," Hamilton said. "We'll see whether it was the right choice tomorrow.

"I'm sure it was the right choice," he added. "The other one would have been a little bit harder."

Hamilton also regretted not having the same amount of speed in the final round that he'd enjoyed in the session up to then, and admitted that Bottas had simply been faster in Q3.

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"Q2 felt good, but when I got to Q3 it just didn't feel good, either run," he said. "The grip didn't feel the same.

"I'm sure when I look at the data there will be plenty of time [that I could have found]," Hamilton told the media when asked if he felt there was anything he could have done to catch Bottas.

"Obviously he's two tenths ahead. He did a great job, so congrats to him."

Hamilton said that the impact of tyres falling out of their optimal tyre temperature was bound to be a factor in tomorrow's race, especially if there were any incidents.

"Naturally the graining, potentially in these conditions," he suggested. "How the tyres behave, whether it's a one or a two stop, how long the tyres will go.

"We're obviously all on the soft to start with," he added. "Whether or not there are safety cars - going around behind the safety car in these conditions is going to be tough with these temperatures.

"There's a lot to play for tomorrow so I need to get my head down!"

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