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lewis hamilton f1 barcelona qualifying

Hamilton: I am super grateful to be in the top three

mercedes lewis hamilton f1 barcelona qualifying

Third place on the grid for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix surprised Mercedes seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton who was “super grateful” to end where he did in Qualifying.

It was a tense and very open afternoon session in Barcelona on Saturday. Hamilton showed his hand by topping FP2 a day earlier. The Mercedes W15 hugely improved with their latest upgrade, served the Briton well and of course he made the most of it.

F1’s greatest Qualifier could not add to his incredible tally of 104 P1 GP starts today, but was 0.?s shy of the top time and will line up P3 behind pole winner Lando Norris in the McLaren and Hamilton’s nemesis Max Verstappen in P2.

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Speaking in parc freme after the session, Hamilton acknowledged the cheering crowd before reporting: “I am really happy. I am super grateful to be in the top three. It has been quite a difficult year, there has been hard work from everyone back in the factory.

“We are starting to see those incremental steps. I didn’t expect to be in for pole necessarily but every now and then there looked to be bits that had us close. So to be there I am just grateful.”

Hamilton: We have made huge steps forward

hamilton norris barcelona f1 qualifying

Hamilton stated: “It is really down to every single individual back at the factory who is working on design, pushing in making the new parts we get to bring to these races.

“Slowly the car is crafting into a racing machine with which we can hopefully fight the guys in front. George did a great job as well so hopefully tomorrow we can apply the pressure on the guys ahead.

I am going into tomorrow to try and win. We are in a beautiful spot. P3 is a good position to start with. I think the long run wasn’t looking bad so I hope that translates to the race. I think the start needs to be a shake-and-bake with Lando maybe. I am just going to remain optimistic,” added Hamilton.

Canadian GP Pole winner George Russell in the sister Mercedes has shaded Hamilton this weekend. In Q3 he was a couple of hundredths of a second short of his teammate. He will line up in P4 for an all-Silver Arrows second row.

Speaking to reporters after Qualy, Russell was bullish about the race: “The car has been feeling great, and historically we have gone well here in Barcelona. I think the gap between Lando and Max was probably a little bit bigger than we expected.”

Russell: The car has been feeling great

Russell: The car has been feeling great mercedes barcelona qualifying f1

Russell reckoned: “We did good laps, but on a challenging track like this, you have to put the tyres in the right window and just find those last couple of tenths and that is what Lando managed to do today and we didn’t.

“P3 and P4 is a really great places to fight. I think on a circuit like this, the pace of the car will always win out. Strategically, the tyre degradation, you can do some things with the strategy, but if you have got one tenth of pace in the car, that will always win out over strategy.

“For sure we will try something but we hope we have got the pace to fight with Max and Lando. I think we do have the pace to fight for victory. We have had three races in a row with these upgrades. It is nice to be back in the mix,” added Russell, who scored his team’s first podium of the season in Canada last time out.

Hamilton, in his final year with Mercedes – before he departs to Ferrari at the end of the season – has not won a GP since he triumphed at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Russell’s win at the 2022 Sao Paulo GP remains the team’s only win of the current F1 rules era.