Hamilton feels Mercedes can challenge for victory in Spain

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes feels like its car is in a place that will allow it to fight for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, despite downplaying overall lap times.

Lando Norris was fastest in FP1 and Hamilton topped FP2 as Mercedes continued a trend of looking strong on a Friday, but in the past two races it has managed to keep that form into qualifying and the race. Hamilton says he’s not focusing on the standings but more on his confidence in the car, and at this stage of the weekend he thinks Mercedes is one of four teams in the mix for the win.

“P1 was so-so, I went in a direction with the car, we learned quite a lot in that session, and then P2 definitely felt quite a bit better,” Hamilton said. “Made some good changes and the car’s feeling really great today.


“It was very hot, the track, very tough for the tires – especially on the long run – but it doesn’t feel like we’re too far off. I wouldn’t really take too much notice of lap times necessarily, but I think the car is definitely in a better place. I think we’ve got some work to do to improve it overnight and see if we can hold onto the Red Bulls and the Ferraris and McLarens.”

Hamilton says that the work that Mercedes has done in recent weeks has led to the drivers being able to extract more lap time from the W15, even if the direct performance gains have been small.

“We definitely are working [towards being back in the fight],” he said. “Everyone at the factory has been working so hard – as they are every year – but I think having more of a North Star, we’ve got a much better understanding of where we want to go with the car.

“I think the incremental steps that they’ve been taking, everyone’s been working so hard with building components and bringing them consistently rather than just big chunks here and there, and for that I’m really grateful. You’re starting to see that in how comfortable we are as drivers in the car, so it’s positive.”

Teammate George Russell ended FP2 nearly half a second off Hamilton in eighth place, but said the signs are encouraging for Mercedes despite that deficit.

“I’m feeling really good, the car has been performing well around this circuit,” Russell said. “I need to have a look, obviously Lewis topped the timesheets, which was great to see. I felt really strong on the medium tire, long run pace and in FP1 we were right up there with the quickest. It’s only Friday but it has been a while since we’ve been consistently at the upper end.”

Despite being fifth-fastest in the second practice session, Max Verstappen was not fazed by the tricky start to the weekend that Red Bull had, as he felt there were no glaring issues to deal with.

“We just tried a few different set-ups out there in FP1 and FP2, so it’s just trying to fine-tune a little bit,” Verstappen said. “But at least the day itself was a bit more normal, without any issues. So, that’s what we were hoping for. And now it’s about just trying to tidy up a little bit the car, but that’s quite normal.

“[The updates] were very tiny. It’s nothing too big. But, so far, everything is feeling normal.”

Story originally appeared on Racer