‘This is huge for us’ – Hamilton ‘couldn’t really be happier’ with P2 finish in 300th Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Lewis Hamilton capped off his 300th Grand Prix weekend in style at the Circuit Paul Ricard, securing his and Mercedes’ best result of the season after leading home team mate George Russell for P2 and P3 – with Hamilton hailing the result as “a triumph” for the Silver Arrows.
A lightning start from P4 on the grid saw Hamilton jumping Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for P3 on Lap 1, with Hamilton then benefitting from Charles Leclerc’s retirement to finish a comfortable P2 behind his 2021 title rival Max Verstappen – with a delighted Hamilton facing the media on Sunday evening.
“I couldn’t really be much happier,” said the seven-time champion. “Of course, if we’d won that would be another step but definitely didn’t expect that result today. Obviously, I was praying and hoping that we could fight for a podium, like a third, but I can’t believe we have a second – this is huge for us.
“Obviously unfortunate for Charles, but we’ve done a great job with reliability as a team, so I have to really give huge thanks to the team for that.”
Hamilton’s result, meanwhile, was all the more impressive given he was suffering from a malfunctioning drinks bottle on his Mercedes W13 – with TV cameras picking up Hamilton lying on the floor of the cool-down room ahead of the podium ceremony.
“I feel fantastic – I was just a little bit dehydrated!” he said. “The drinks bottle didn’t work in the race. I don’t actually ever drink in the race ever, so this is the first time I actually tried it all year and there was nothing coming out.
“But what a day, what a weekend. Especially with missing FP1 [in place of Nyck de Vries], just so proud of the team – this is an incredible result. Winning races and getting results like this is about the whole package.
“And of course, we know we don’t have quite the pace of the two teams [Ferrari and Red Bull] ahead, but reliability is a huge fundamental part of the process so I’m so proud of my team for having the reliability that we do have. And what a great result… George did a great job today as well, so to get a second and a third, it’s really special for us.”
In just seven days’ time, Hamilton will line up on the grid at the Hungaroring, a track where he’s won a joint-record eight times. But with Hamilton having finished P3 in Austria and P2 in France, could his legions of fans dare to dream of him taking his first victory of the season at one of his favourite stomping grounds?
“I dare to dream, for sure!” he said. “But’s going to be tough. [Red Bull and Ferrari] are so fast, and Ferrari made a big step this weekend and that will be hard to beat in Budapest. But it’s going to be hot and I’m hoping that our car is a little bit better there. I won’t know till I get there, so fingers crossed!”