Lewis Hamilton finished the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix in second place, a result he admitted was way more than he expected coming into the weekend in Barcelona.
Hamilton and Mercedes came into the Spanish Formula 1 weekend hoping to validate the upgrade package which they have brought to their W14 one race earlier in Monaco.
And while the early signs from practice were not really encouraging, Hamilton even expressing his concern of not making it into Q3 in Qualifying, he actually did, qualifying fifth, and then starting fourth after Pierre Gasly’s penalty, ultimately racing strongly to second behind race winner Max Verstappen.
Hamilton had Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz standing between him and the runner up position of the race, but the Spaniard had no answer for the “Hammertime” on Sunday.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Hamilton started by commending teammate George Russell who finished third having started from 12th on the grid.
“George did a fantastic job to come from 12th to third,” he said. ” I hope everybody at the factory and back at home feels proud of themselves for the amazing work they are doing.
“The car felt great,” the Briton went on. “We definitely have steps to continue taking to close the gap to the Red Bulls, but this is way more than I expected and I thoroughly enjoyed the race.”
Barcelona is known as the ultimate test for an F1 car, and Hamilton was encouraged by the performance of his upgraded Black Arrow making him cautiously hopeful for the remainder of the season.
If you’re quick in Barcelona, you’re good elsewhere, but…
“As long as I’ve been racing here [in Barcelona], if you are quick here, you should be good elsewhere,” he said. “But I think the way these cars work is they have a more narrow working window, so there will be tracks where they don’t work maybe. I’m hoping that’s not the case and they are as strong as they are this weekend.
“I think we have the strongest team, particularly George and I both punching out great results, weekend in, weekend out,” the seven-time F1 Champion pointed out.
“Now we just need to pick up the performance a little bit more, which I know everyone is working hard to do. Hopefully at some stage we can catch these Red Bulls,” Hamilton concluded.
However it would be safe to say that Mercedes have a long way to go in their pursuit of Red Bull, as Hamilton finished 24 seconds behind Verstappen in Spain, noting that the energy drinks outfit will not be resting on their laurels.
Nevertheless, Mercedes seem to have turned a corner on Sunday in Barcelona, with the coming races giving us a real idea of how fast their recovery will be.