LCH realized his chances in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix were all but gone as he limped out of qualifying in 13th.

The three-time world champion had been struggling with the set-up of his Mercedes throughout practice but could hardly have expected this abject performance, especially as team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished just 45 thousandths behind pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen.

LCH had already come within inches of crashing his oddly unresponsive car, almost hitting the barriers at Massanet, repeatedly shouting “there’s something wrong” over team radio. Any hopes of reaching the third phase of qualifying were sunk when McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne crashed, bringing out yellow flags that forced him to abort his final flying lap.

In a race where grid position is all-important, Hamilton faces an almost impossible task in chasing his third victory in Monte Carlo from the seventh row. He faces falling further behind Sebastian Vettel, who leads the championship race by six points, after the German qualified second fastest to secure a Ferrari front-row lock-out.