Lewis Hamilton has warned Red Bull and Ferrari that Mercedes are on their way back to the top of the pecking order after the German team’s impressive showing in practice ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows have brought a number of important upgrades to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and will be hoping to challenge the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for their first victory of the new season when the five red lights go out to start Sunday’s race.
Mercedes managed to come home in second and third at the end of FP2 on Friday, with George Russell’s quickest lap of the day just one-tenth adrift of the leading time that was set by Leclerc. Hamilton has since insisted that Mercedes are finally on the right track after struggling to make the most of their pace over the course of the campaign despite having previously written off their hopes of challenging for the end-of-season honours.
“Positive, super happy with the progress,” beamed Hamilton after finishing two-tenths off the pace of Leclerc and lapping quicker than the likes of Verstappen and Carlos Sainz in Friday’s second practice session.
“A big, big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory for not giving up and for continuing to push. We’re not the quickest yet, but we’re on our way, this is the first time that we’ve driven down the straight without bouncing.
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“We still have some bouncing, but it’s way better and we’re starting to eke out a bit of the potential in the car. It’s still tough out there with the car but it’s much nicer than it’s been before.
“So yeah, really grateful for those upgrades, we now need to just fine-tune them into the next session tonight. There’s lots of data to go over to try and position the car, I think we can get it into a better place for tomorrow so that we can tackle the heels of the guys up ahead.”
Mercedes have added winglets to the bottom of their car towards the front wing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix to seemingly follow the design used by Red Bull and Ferrari at the start of the season. They have also made a number of subtle floor changes in an attempt to eradicate the porpoising that has plagued their on-track efforts since pre-season testing.
The Silver Arrows used one of their filming days to run the rule over the alterations at Paul Ricard on Wednesday, which many have described as a ‘secret test’ due to their ability to trial the changes in advance of this weekend’s event in Spain. However, it remains to be seen whether Mercedes will be able to match the long-run pace of their Constructors’ Championship rivals over the course of Sunday’s 66-lap contest as a result of their hard work behind the scenes over the last two weeks.
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