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Hamilton: Mercedes W15 is “a car that we can fight with”

Lewis Hamilton says that he and George Russell have been given “a car we can fight with” by the Mercedes Formula 1 team after two frustrating seasons with the unloved W13 and W14 models.

Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Russell demonstrated the potential of the new W15 by qualifying third for the season-opener in Bahrain, while Hamilton was left a frustrated ninth after set-up changes didn’t work in his favour over one lap.

However, the seven-time world champion remains optimistic about the car’s potential for Saturday evening’s race.

“Very, very tough qualifying session,” said Hamilton. “It's amazing to see how close everyone is. I think George's position is a real testament [to] just how amazing the job is [that] everyone's done at the factory, and [they have] finally given us a car that we can fight with.

“I just wasn't able to utilise that today when I made that set-up change. I put something on the car that we haven't put on for the last two years.

“And I was hoping that it would be okay. And I just stuck with it. I was like, I'm just going to stick with it. And yeah, it wasn't nice to drive."

Asked by Autosport how excited he is compared to 12 months ago – when it was quickly apparent that the W14 was not the step it was expected to be – he admitted that the session had been frustrating given what should have been possible.

"I mean, in this moment, I'm ugh…!” he said. “For the first qualifying session to be as poor as that…so much preparation went into this today, and then it didn't go the way it should.

“But that's racing, but in terms of the season, for sure, to know that we have a package that we can potentially fight with is really pleasing."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, is interviewed after Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, is interviewed after Qualifying

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Hamilton is adamant that the car represents a good starting point from which to build for the rest of the season.

"The car is really fantastic,” he said. “It's really a real big improvement from previous years. A lot more stable, a lot more fun to drive.

“But we still have work to do, as you can see, but for George to be three-tenths off Red Bull – or off Max [Verstappen] – is incredible. It shows what's possible.

“And I think we've just got to really just continue to add performance. And I mean, if that's our platform from here, we can definitely chase through the rest of the season."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team had taken a different approach to this season.

“In a way we have thrown away this mindset of we've won eight times, why are we not doing it now?” said the Austrian. “We're simply the underdog, we got it wrong two years in a row.

“And now we have a car that is more to our liking. And let's build it up from here. And I'm sure that's going to happen.”

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