Hamilton targets Norris and Verstappen on Barcelona race day after ‘huge steps’ put Mercedes back in the mix

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 22: Third placed qualifier Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton heaped praise on the Mercedes workforce once more after securing third on the grid behind McLaren’s Lando Norris and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton and team mate George Russell have been in the mix throughout the weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, adding to competitive displays in Monaco and Canada that came after another batch of updates.

READ MORE: Norris beats Verstappen to pole in thrilling Spanish GP qualifying session

On a personal level, it also marked a mini breakthrough for Hamilton after being out-qualified 8-1 by Russell across the opening nine Grands Prix of the season, with the younger Briton taking P4.

“I’m super grateful to be in the top three,” said Hamilton after qualifying. “It’s been quite a difficult year, so a huge amount of work from everyone back at the factory and finally we’re starting to see those incremental steps, moving closer to the guys ahead.

“I didn’t expect us to be fighting for pole necessarily, but every now and then there looks like there were bits there and maybe we’ll be close, so to be there, I’m just grateful.”

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Pushed on how much progress there’s been from Mercedes, Hamilton added that “we’ve made huge steps forward and it’s really just down to every single individual back at the factory.

“[It’s everyone] who’s pushing in design, pushing in making the new parts that we get to bring as early as possible to these races. Slowly that car is crafting into a racing machine that we can hopefully fight the guys at the front.”

AS IT HAPPENED: All the action from qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix

Throwing it ahead to race day, the seven-time world champion signed off: “George did a great job as well today, so hopefully tomorrow we can apply pressure on the two cars ahead.”

Russell himself offered a similar assessment of the session as he took plenty of positives despite being out-paced by his team mate.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 22: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas

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Asked if P3 and P4 is proof that Mercedes’ steps are real, he said: “Yeah, absolutely. I think we’ve shown it now three races in a row.

“I think in Monaco we were 20 milliseconds from P3, and that would have been a podium. In Canada, obviously pole. Here, the gap was maybe slightly bigger than we hoped. I think Lando did an exceptional job.

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“I expect it to be much closer tomorrow, and we’re P3 and P4, which as a team is the best result on a Saturday collectively. I’m really excited for what’s to come.”

Russell continued: “I think it’s all to play for to be honest. It’s always a lot of tyre degradation here in Barcelona, it will most likely be a two-stop. But it’s probably going to rain tonight, the track will be a bit slippery in the morning.

“I think it’s exciting. It’s been a while since we’ve been in the mix. Obviously Montreal was very fun and a lot to learn from the race. Let’s see what we can do.”


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