The start of the season was rather disappointing for the reigning constructors’ champion. Only two podiums were achieved before the Spanish Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton started the year third in Bahrain, George Russell finished third in Australia. The low point was Hamilton’s thirteenth place at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The Brit was lapped by Max Verstappen on the Imola circuit.
All hopes rested on the updates to the W13 that the team brought to Barcelona last weekend. That didn’t harm the Mercedes drivers. Russell battled the two Red Bull drivers in the race and finished third. Hamilton impressed by working his way up to fifth from the back of the field – after colliding with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap.
Above all, the performance of the seven-time world champion gives team boss Toto Wolff a lot of confidence. In his opinion, Mercedes had the fastest package of all on Sunday. “He looked like he was driving a car that could win the world title,” said Wolff, looking at Hamilton. “That was absolutely not the case in the last few races. It reminded me of last year and the seasons before that when our car was really at its best.” Wolff therefore believes that Mercedes can once again keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull and still have a chance of winning the championship.
“I saw a racing car that reminded me of the racing cars of the last few years,” the Austrian continued. “When you’re 30 seconds behind the whole field but you’re right up front and you’re almost on the podium, that’s very encouraging. It underlines that we have taken a step. Can we fight for the title again? think so well We just have to have a car capable of finishing first and second. I think we have reason to believe in it. It would be against the odds, but auto racing is unpredictable. We’ve now seen Ferrari score few goals when they should have. We’re working really hard so we can get back in the fight.”
According to Wolff, the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari and Red Bull has halved in Barcelona. “The new rules surprised us, but step by step we understand what we need to do to improve the car’s performance,” said the Mercedes captain. “We took another big step this weekend. We’ve probably halved the gap to the frontrunners. But there is still a long way to go to the top. But still we’re third with George, that’s strong. He drove amazingly. I’m happy to see that. He’s a great driver, a star in the making.”
Russell is 36 points behind captain Max Verstappen (110) in the drivers’ standings. The gap between Verstappen and Hamilton is 64 points. Mercedes is third in the constructors’ standings with 120 points, 49 points behind Ferrari and 75 behind Red Bull.