Rejuvenated Hamilton used Spanish GP as "test bench"

Lewis Hamilton says he used his drive to victory in the Spanish GP as a “test bench” as he found his Mercedes to his liking for the first time since Australia, and wanted to fully explore its potential.

Rejuvenated Hamilton used Spanish GP as "test bench"
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, on the opening lap
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, the field at the start of the race
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, 2nd position, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, on the podium
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, celebrates with fans
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, 2nd position, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, on the podium
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, 1st position, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1, 2nd position, celebrate with the Mercedes team
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14
Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09

Hamilton said he hit the set-up sweet spot in a dominant performance in Barcelona, and with his lead secure he focussed on making mental notes about what to tell his engineers.

"I think today has really been a rejuvenating experience," he said. "People probably think it was an easy race and that I was cruising. I wasn't. 

"I was comfortable, and at no point did I feel I was going to lose it, but I was pushing every single lap, using it as test bench to understand what I liked about the balance, how can I play with it a bit more, can I squeeze any more out of it, and then just understand what I've got to get more from. 

"So when you do the debrief you can be very particular, and to the point, on what you want them to work on.

"In that meeting there were a few key points which I pointed out, like 'work on this, make that better, and I'll be faster.'

"The cool thing about being a world champion is that the team listens, naturally, to what you say, because you're not talking gibberish. 

"They go away and focus on those areas, look at the data, try to work on it, and it's an amazing process you do together. Then it comes back and it works.

"Of course they knew it would do because you said it was going to work, but they'll go away and do their expertise, come back and improve a certain area of the car, however long it's going to take, and we'll start to see the benefits."

Hamilton admitted that he hadn't been fully confident in the car in races since Australia, where he lost victory when jumped by Sebastian Vettel, as Ferrari pitted him under a virtual safety car.

"In Melbourne I was really comfortable in the car, with the balance,"he reflected. "And since then I just didn't have the confidence to attack, to lean on the car, to have the rear particularly where I wanted it. 

"For whatever reason I still didn't have that yesterday [Saturday]. It was a very nervous, snappy car throughout qualifying. But it was better than it had been in the past, but still not great. 

"And then today [I] just happened to get the right wing setting for example for the race, and the car was a little bit nicer to drive. It was a little bit more of a normal balance. 

"I was feeling comfortable and I want to push this car to the limits, I want to see how far I can push it, how far I can push myself, how consistent can I be, can I beat that time, can I improve, can I improve, can I improve, and that was mindset the whole race. It wasn't until Turn 12 on the last lap that I backed off – I had traffic so that's why I backed off."

He added that the win was a big boost after some difficult weekends in the first part of the season.

"It's the greatest feeling to come here and have that kind of performance and have a convincing win," he said. "Anybody who has a win wants to do it that way. And it's definitely a great, great feeling. I think you could probably see by my energy when I got out of the car. 

"Not every win feels as a great as that one does. To think that was my 64th, but it still feels like a first, it still feels special, it still feels unique."

shares
comments
F1 Debrief: All you need to know from the Spanish GP

Previous article

F1 Debrief: All you need to know from the Spanish GP

Next article

Sirotkin had "very painful" seat problem in Spanish GP

Sirotkin had "very painful" seat problem in Spanish GP
Load comments
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Prime

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Prime

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings

Two drivers produced faultless performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left many to rue what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Prime

Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Prime

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021