Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Mercedes’ upgrade is “definitely not the step forward” he was hoping for ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion said after May’s Miami Grand Prix he was “counting down the days” for the upgrade he hoped would propel him back to the front, and he was given his first taste of Mercedes’ revamped machine at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton qualified sixth in Monte Carlo before making up two places in the rain-hit race. Team-mate George Russell finished one spot behind Hamilton in fifth, while Max Verstappen raced to his fourth win of the season.
The Monte Carlo layout has been among Mercedes’ worst tracks and Sunday’s race here at the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona is set to represent a truer reflection of the team’s outright speed.
But addressing Mercedes’ upgrade on the eve of the seventh round, Hamilton said: “It is definitely not the step forward that we were hoping for.
“The true step forward we were hoping for was to [overturn] a one-second delta [to Red Bull] in race trim, and we have not covered that with this step.
“When you bring upgrades, naturally you should be progressing forwards, and the fact is that it is an improvement, but it just not the improvement we had dreamed of.
“It is one step at a time. I don’t feel negative towards it, I am grateful we have it, and I understand how much work has gone into making these parts, the rush that has gone on, and the amount of flat-out work by the team.
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“We are hugely hungry to move in the right direction so I would say that I am just hopeful that it puts us on a better track.
“We have taken account of where we are, where we have gone wrong, and now we are slowly chipping away and navigating our way back to the front but unfortunately it is just a long process.”
Hamilton finished 39 seconds behind Verstappen on Sunday as the Dutchman extended his championship lead over team-mate Sergio Perez to 39 points.
Red Bull have won 16 of the last 17 grands prix, with Verstappen firmly on course to secure his third world title in as many years.
And Verstappen said his team – which has dominated the sport since a major overhaul of the regulations at the beginning of last season – has the speed to win all 22 races.
Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3. pic.twitter.com/uApgS6O9RH
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“I would say at the moment, that we can,” said Verstappen. “But that’s very unlikely to happen.
“There are always things that go wrong, a retirement or whatever. But purely on pace at the moment we can.
“We have always seen dominant periods in Formula One and this is nothing new. If we look back at the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s, early 2010s to all the way until 2020, it’s pure dominance of certain teams.
“The longer you leave the regulations the same, the closer people will get. So maybe this is something we need to look at.”