“It’s a big step for us”

“It’s a big step for us”

Mercedes’ streak of nine consecutive pole positions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – which dates back to 2013 – may have come to an end this year. But drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton have been buoyant after winning P4 and P6 on the Barcelona grid, with both eyeing a fight with title leaders Ferrari after Mercedes appear to have overcome their porpoising issues.

Just like in Miami, Mercedes showed impressive pace in Free Practice 2, with Russell and Hamilton finishing P2 and P3 behind Charles Leclerc. Unlike Miami, however, they maintained that pace until Saturday, with Russell eventually finishing fourth on the grid in Spain, for his best qualifying of the season.

READ MORE: Leclerc says dying shot for pole was ‘something special’ after recovering from spin in Spain

When asked if the result reflected progress – Mercedes having made a a series of upgrades at W13 in a bid to stop him from rebounding – Russell replied: “I think so. It wasn’t really our most perfect qualifying session; we didn’t really have the tires in the right window and it felt like there was a lot more lap time on the table, but we still came home to P4 with our best qualifying from the season.

“And looking at the pace on Friday, we had a better race car than the qualifying car, so I think we have a real chance against Ferrari. But Red Bull, especially Max [Verstappen]seem a little faster than the others, so everything to play for.

P4 Russell predicts Sunday will be ‘not easy’

Russell added that it was a relief not to suffer from porpoising in the car now, telling the media: “I don’t feel as tired after this session as I am used to, so I can relax tonight. , take a good night and go for it.

Spain marked the first time Hamilton were overqualified by Russell as they both reached Q3 this year. And while the six-time Spanish poleman admitted he was ’emptied’ to have qualified 0.119s behind Russell (who himself qualified 0.643s behind poleman Leclerc), he also hailed the job done by Mercedes to straighten out the earthy W13. .

READ MORE: Leclerc skips Q3 rotation to take pole in Spain as technical glitch sees Verstappen out

“The team did such a great job, so a big, big, big thank you to everyone for continuing to push back to the factory,” Hamilton said.

“We don’t have any straight line rebound which is a huge improvement for us and the car has generally felt better this weekend. We have some rebound in high speed corners like turns 3 and 9 , so we need to keep working on that and improving it and see if we can gain more support elsewhere.


Hamilton, a six-time poleman in Spain, admitted he was ‘disgusted’ at not having matched Russell

“I’m a little bummed out because I wanted to be further up front and obviously you saw that George is capable of putting it further than me, but I’m going to keep pushing.”

FACTS & STATS: Back-to-back poles for Leclerc as Ferrari starts P1 in Spain for first time since 2008

Ask if Mercedes racing pace had been better than their one-lap pace in Friday’s race, meanwhile Hamilton replied: “Certainly. Yesterday was like the best race pace we’ve had so if we could start racing with the Ferraris for example, that would be amazing.

“I think the Red Bulls seem to be the quickest, but maybe we could compete with the Ferraris, maybe, tomorrow. It’s a big step for us.

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