Lewis Hamilton wore a broad smile on Friday after he and Mercedes team-mate George Russell wound up second and third behind Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in practice at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The seven-time champion, who was third-fastest, immediately thanked all the staff at Mercedes’ factories back in Britain for their undying commitment to improving their capricious car and reviving their challenge this year.
“Positive – super-happy with the progress,” he responded when asked how he felt. “A big, big, big thank-you to everyone at the factory for not giving up, for continuing to push.
“We’re not the quickest, but we are on our way. It is the first time I have driven down the straight without bouncing. We still have some bouncing, but it is way better so we are starting to eke into a bit of the potential in our car.
“It is still tough out there in the car, but it is much nicer than it has been before so we’re really grateful for these upgrades.
“Now, it is just about trying to tune them in, in the next session, to try to position the car. I think we can get it even better tomorrow so hopefully we can be on the heels of the guys ahead.”
Mercedes brought a major package of upgrades to the Circuit de Catalunya for the W13 many aimed at reducing the ‘porpoising’ on the straights and improving their straight-line speeds.
Without a win this year, Hamilton had already written off his hopes of taking an eighth title while Russell, despite finishing in the top five in all five races, has struggled to claim just one podium finish.
Russell was more circumspect in his reaction to finishing second with an improved performance.
“I don’t know, to be honest, because in Miami we were quickest on Friday and obviously here we are second,” he said, referring to the disappointment of falling to 12th on Saturday in Miami qualifying.
“Let’s see. The car is definitely reacting differently. We have different limitations this time.
“We definitely don’t have the porpoising on the straight, which is good, but we are still experiencing it a bit here and there in the corners which ultimately, you need to dial out.
“I think Red Bull still look very, very strong, they look the team to be reckoned with at the moment and we need to go through the data. Let’s see.”