Lewis Hamilton Admits Spanish GP Comeback Felt ‘Better Than A Win’
Lewis Hamilton says his brilliant comeback drive at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix has resurrected his dream of fighting for an eighth world championship. With team-mate George Russell finishing third it marked an improved weekend for Mercedes, who have struggled with their car in the opening five races.
Hamilton and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen collided on the opening lap in Barcelona and when he rejoined at the back of the field after his enforced pit stop he despondently suggested retiring the car to preserve the engine, such as the gap to the leaders.
But he responded with a fine drive and was on course to finish fourth until he had to slow down in the closing laps because of a coolant leak, which allowed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to retake a position Hamilton had taken shortly beforehand. Leclerc kept Verstappen at bay off the line and raced into a huge lead after the Red Bull man and Carlos Sainz spun into the gravel inside the opening 10 laps. However, the Monegasque driver was cruelly forced to take an early bath when his engine gave up on him shortly before the halfway mark in a devastating blow to his hopes of claiming the end-of-season honours.
Details of the chaotic race
Lewis resumed in 19th place, about 38.6 seconds behind Nicholas Latifi in front of him and a whopping 53.908 seconds adrift of then race leader Charles Leclerc by the end of lap two.
Having moved off the medium and on to a used soft compound (with Leclerc the only frontrunner with a fresh set), Hamilton did not make much of an impression early on. In fact, clearly with an eye to going as long as he could on the set, he drifted off the front rather than closed in. He was more than one minute back by the end of lap eight, and by the time he came in for his second stop at the end of lap 22, he was a full 1min 07s behind Leclerc.
Lewis Hamilton’s slim chances of a podium finish were dashed when he tangled with Kevin Magnussen on the opening lap of the race. The seven-time champion managed to recover incredibly well, though, to clinch an impressive fifth-place finish despite having to contend with minor damage for the vast majority of the 66-lap contest. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Grand Prix with team-mate Sergio Perez second ahead of Russell after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retired from the lead with an engine problem.
An upgrade to the Mercedes car in Spain featured a redesigned floor which seems to have eliminated the most significant problem the car has had so far – a high-speed bouncing created by aerodynamic disruption on the straights, known as ‘porpoising’. In the opening five races Mercedes only had two podium finishes – Hamilton in the season opener in Bahrain and Russell in Australia three weeks later, with Hamilton often cutting a frustrated figure.
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