Spanish Grand Prix: Mercedes dares to dream of world title challenge after turnaround

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Mercedes had been talking for weeks about unleashing its car’s hidden potential. At the Spanish Grand Prix, they finally succeeded.

Lewis Hamilton produced a superb drive from the back of the grid into fifth place, while George Russell picked up his second podium of the season.

Although Red Bull secured a one-two as race winner Max Verstappen took the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes packed their bags at the Circuit de Catalunya equally boosted by their turnaround in fortunes.

In the wake of Miami, team boss Toto Wolff had answered questions about the possibility of abandoning their current concept and starting all over again with a view to 2023.

After Barcelona, ​​he thinks Hamilton and Russell finally have a championship-winning car. “Can we fight for a world championship?” He asked. “We bet we can but we just need to have a car that can finish first and second. We have reason to believe we can do it.

“The odds are against us, but motor racing is a different ball game. You push hard to get back in the game. It felt like a world championship winning race car.

New flooring and a new wing for this weekend erased the porpoising on the straights, which has been their biggest problem, although it continued through the high-speed corners, showing there is still room to improvement.

However, while their top speed is now on par with the Red Bulls and Ferraris, they struggled to find the rhythm in low-speed corners. As such, it could mean a step back at the next two races at Monaco next weekend and Baku a fortnight later.

“We were particularly late in the slow corners of the last sector due to overheating,” said Wolff. “It could be different in Monaco. My expectations for Monaco are lower than at any other circuit.

Hamilton’s race in Spain was compromised when he suffered a puncture following a first lap with Kevin Magnussen, which dropped him more than half a minute behind the stragglers. He suggested ditching the car to save the engine before working his way through the field to finish in the top five.

George Russell clinched the final podium spot in an encouraging run for Mercedes

/ Getty Images

Afterwards, he said: “A race like this is like a victory and you feel better when you come back from so far. I had to go through a lot of adversity. »

Asked if he thought the car now has the potential to win races again, Hamilton added: “Yeah, definitely. We’ve made a lot of improvements with the car, the race pace is good. It’s a good sign that we’re heading in the right direction and it gives me a lot of hope that at some point we’ll fight for a win.

Russell had led the race at one point after Charles Leclerc’s earlier retirement when he lost power. And the Briton felt that Mercedes’ upgrades had halved the disadvantage for Ferrari and Red Bull.

“It’s probably the start of our season,” he said. “We finally solved our problem. Now we can focus on delivering more performance. We’re six races behind but there’s no reason why we can’t come back. I’m here to win, I’m here to fight.


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