Lewis Hamilton makes worrying claim on Mercedes chances at the Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton makes worrying claim on Mercedes chances at the Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has acknowledged that qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix will be difficult.

Lewis Hamilton thinks Q3 might be a step too much for his side of the garage based on how he felt his Mercedes performed on Friday.

At the conclusion of Friday’s track session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the seven-time World Champion finished in 11th place, over six tenths of a second slower than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who dominated the practice.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s teammate George Russell ended in eighth place with a two-tenths of a second advantage over Hamilton’s best, although neither driver performed particularly well.

The Brackley-based team introduced an improved Mercedes W14 at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, and the pair are getting used to life with the new car. For this weekend, more minor adjustments have been made, which means Mercedes will need to work hard to fine-tune their modifications and gain a better understanding of them at a circuit more indicative of the typical track demands.

Hamilton was questioned about how the tweaks were handled on the track following the day’s racing in Barcelona.

“It was a difficult day one. Just getting on top of the tyres and the deg, the car feels like a car,” said Hamilton.

“It is so different from last week but the long-run pace didn’t look terrible, we have just got to work on trying to figure out how we can extract more from a single lap.”

“But hopefully, we’ll do some changes overnight. I think it’s very, very close between us and that middle… after P5 back to around P10. So it’s really, really close between us all.

“It’s impressive to see the improvements that everyone seems to have made all around us, looking at [Esteban] Ocon, the Alpines are doing great.

“The Aston Martin was second just right behind the Red Bull, which is really really impressive. So yeah, it’s not gonna be easy, that’s for sure.”

The weather turned dismal and cloudy as the day came to an end, but the drivers were unaffected by the rain while they were out on the course. But Hamilton added it might be advantageous for Mercedes to be able to handle challenging circumstances given the likelihood of rain this weekend.

“Wet weather could always be a helping hand, given that we’re not as quick as we’d like to be,” he said.

“I’m just going to try and do the best job again tonight, to make the right setup changes and there are definitely improvements I know I can make with this setup so I’ll get on top of that.”

Hamilton beamed when questioned about the track modification that returned the last sector to the configuration last used in 2006, a configuration he had tested with McLaren that year.

“It’s awesome. It’s very fast!” he said. “I definitely prefer it to the small chicane we had in the past… It’s much more fun.

“I’ve not followed anyone through there so I don’t know how that’s going to be in the race, but it’s definitely gonna make it tough for deg[tyre degradation].”

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