Lewis Hamilton fastest as Mercedes dominate in Spanish Grand Prix

Posted May 13, 2017

Lewis Hamilton heaped praise on his Mercedes team on Friday after he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas dominated practice ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

The unflappable Finn, who has emerged as a serious threat not only to his more celebrated team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but also Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel, believes his determination, form and speed justify his optimism.

That was demonstrated previous year by Dutch teenager Max Verstappen's win on his debut for Red Bull. Hamilton clocked a 1:20.802 on the soft tyres, purple in the final sector, to top the session.

Crediting Mercedes for working hard on the upgrade - which includes a tapered nose and a re-shaped shark "fin" -, the three-time champion insists he can already feel the benefits.

A Ferrari engineer works on the auto of Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen.

"Coming into this weekend we have a good understanding of where we went wrong on our side of the garage in Sochi", said Hamilton, who has not finished off the podium at consecutive races since 2013. It looks like it will be between them and us, but as I said I wasn't happy.

Red Bull hoped that their upgrade for this race would bring them closer to Mercedes and Ferrari and that, too, appears to be the case. "I wasn't totally happy as I think a lot was left in the track and I didn't find it at the end".

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He said the team had no immediate explanation for Hamilton's uninspired form in Sochi where he struggled with the vehicle. I'm struggling a bit to find the rhythm, and a bit with the conditions, probably more myself than the vehicle.

"I think it's been always like that in F1, but now that our auto with Ferrari is so equal small things like tyres [can decide the outcome]".

"I feel good. Obviously today I don't feel so good inside the auto, it was quite slippery but I think it was due to the conditions, I think everybody was struggling a bit".

"Sometimes somebody else was steering my ship but I hope tomorrow whoever that was will disappear". "I think everyone was struggling". Generally, the tyres feel a bit hard - I don't know why.

The only other driver from the leading trio of teams yet to triumph in Barcelona is Verstappen's Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, but the Red Bull has lagged Mercedes and Ferrari on pace so far this year. I definitely think we are better equipped now but I can't really say it's going to be better this weekend.

"First practice was very, very good but in second practice the track changed and shifted quite a lot, so it was slippery and quite a lot slower for everyone - especially with the gusts of wind", Hamilton said.

The lap times will be closely scrutinised, with Barcelona a benchmark for the 2017 regulations that aimed to make the cars five seconds quicker, thanks to wider tyres and revised aerodynamics.