Lewis Hamilton reveals true pace gap to Red Bull and McLaren at Spanish Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton fixes his helmet with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Lewis Hamilton is in his final season as a Mercedes driver

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes are much closer to Red Bull and McLaren than it looks at the Spanish Grand Prix, claiming “the real gap” to pole position could be as small as a tenth and a half.

Mercedes produced their most convincing performance of F1 2024 at the last race in Canada, where Hamilton‘s team-mate George Russell claimed the team’s first podium finish of the season after beating Max Verstappen’s Red Bull to pole position.

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes W15 feeling ‘more and more like a race car’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

The W15 car has continued to show promising pace in Spain, where Hamilton and Russell will line up third and fourth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s lap for third was 0.318 seconds slower than Lando Norris’s time for pole position, with the McLaren driver edging out Verstappen at a circuit widely expected to favour Red Bull.

Appearing in the post-qualifying press conference, Hamilton admitted a deficit of three tenths is a “pretty big chunk” of time, but felt he could have been closer to the front with a more complete lap.

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And with Mercedes making encouraging progress over recent races, Hamilton is hopeful that it is a matter of time before the W15 is “properly in range” of Red Bull and McLaren.

He told media including PlanetF1.com: “Three tenths off? That’s a pretty big chunk. For a track like this, it’s not too bad I think.

“Through the lap, there’s a little bit of time [I could have made up]. I think I probably could have been two tenths [behind instead], but still they have a slight advantage.

“But for us to be that close on a track like this is a real good showing that we’re going in the right direction.

“We’ve got some improvements that we need to bring over the next few races in order for us to be properly in range of those guys.”

Hamilton went on to declare that the W15 feels “more and more like a race car” on track, with Mercedes’ newfound consistency a “huge” benefit after frustrating fluctuations in performance earlier this season.

“It’s been a long time coming for us as a team, so for us to be in this position where we’re third and fourth and starting to be more consistent in that realm is huge,” he told Sky F1.

“A really big huge thanks to everyone back to the factory and it’s really down to everyone there that’s put in the extra hours into bringing upgrades, bringing them fast, keep them refreshing them to be designing and really assisting and helping move this car in the right direction.

“It’s getting more and more enjoyable to drive, more and more like a race car.

“We’re not really that far away. I think the real gap is probably a tenth and a half, maybe.”

Hamilton will go in search of his first podium since the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, with the seven-time World Champion currently on a run of 12 races without a top-three finish.

He remains without a victory since the penultimate race of the 2021 campaign in Saudi Arabia, which came seven days before he was dethroned by Verstappen in highly controversial circumstances at the infamous season finale in Abu Dhabi.

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