‘Like the olden days!’ Lewis Hamilton full of confidence after Spanish Grand Prix comeback

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen raced to his third victory in as many outings

Philip Duncan
Sunday 22 May 2022 18:48
Comments
Lewis Hamilton believes he can be fighting for wins again soon (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Lewis Hamilton believes he can be fighting for wins again soon (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Lewis Hamilton says his brilliant comeback drive at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix has resurrected his dream of fighting for an eighth world championship.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen raced to his third victory in as many outings after Charles Leclerc was cruelly eliminated from the lead when engine gremlins struck his Ferrari on lap 27 of a sizzling race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

Sergio Perez took second, one place ahead of Hamilton’s ever-impressive Mercedes team-mate George Russell, with Carlos Sainz fourth.

Hamilton’s race seemed doomed after just four corners when he collided with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and sustained a puncture.

The seven-time world champion stopped for repairs and emerged last but one – 30 seconds behind his nearest competitor and more than one minute off the lead. So gloomy was Hamilton’s apparent fate that he wanted to retire his car.

But the British driver was persuaded to continue, and he then spent the next 65 laps driving the socks off his machinery to haul himself up to fifth when the chequered flag fell.

He would have finished one place better but for an overheating engine which forced him to surrender position to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the concluding lap.

“Lewis, that was amazing,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, seconds after the race finished. “You were the quickest car out there and you could have gone for the win.”

Red Bull sealed a one-two in Spain (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington added: “It is only just the beginning.” Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles joined the love-in.

“Really strong drive today, Lewis,” he said. “You were the fastest man on track.”

Hamilton might be 64 points behind new championship leader Verstappen after just six rounds.

But with 16 races still to come and Mercedes on the road to recovery, is the 37-year-old confident of a swift return to the winner’s circle?

“Yes, definitely,” he said. “We have made a lot of improvements with the car. If I didn’t have the issue at the start I would have been fighting the Red Bulls so that gives me a great hope at some stage we will be fighting for the win.

“I was 30 seconds behind the next driver [when I left the pits]. I was thinking this would be impossible to get back into the points but the team said: ‘no, you are on for eighth’.

“I couldn’t understand it at the beginning and I thought that they were being super-optimistic, but I decided to give it everything and see where I could finish and it turns out I was higher than eighth.

“It feels better than a win when you have come from so far back and faced that adversity.

“Since the final race of last year it has been difficult all-round. I have had difficulties with the car and constant knock-backs with safety cars and not much fortune either, so it hasn’t been easy.

“But then to come back as I did today, it felt like the olden days, and to me that is amazing.”

It feels better than a win when you have come from so far back and faced that adversity

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes’ revised floor and new front wing have helped to all but eliminate the porpoising woes which have plagued their season. Russell also impressed to secure his second podium of the year.

“Can we fight for a world championship, you bet we can,” added Wolff. “We have reasons to believe we can get there.

“If you look at the standings that is very hard to see but motor racing is a different ball game.

“We’ve seen today that Ferrari didn’t score a lot of points when they should have and we will absolutely push flat out to bring us back into the game.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in