The Spanish Grand Prix was a landmark weekend in the Mercedes F1 Team’s 2022 season, as the German side finally unleashed some pace after getting on top of their porpoising issues.
The team’s recent upgrades which were installed in Spain allowed Mercedes to close the gap to both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
Whilst George Russell finished third at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton was for the majority of the race the quickest car on circuit.
The seven-time World Champion finished fifth after a miraculous recovery drive from nineteenth-place.
Hamilton was involved in an opening lap collision with Kevin Magnussen, which forced the Brit into the pits, putting him thirty-six seconds behind the next car.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was very pleased with the team’s “big step forward”.
“I’m not euphoric, but we’ve taken a big step forward,” he told ORF.
“We’ve freed ourselves from the midfield, and Lewis’ pace was so strong that he would have been in contention for the win.”
Hamilton’s pace may come as a concern to Red Bull and Ferrari, who have so far dominated this season.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto however believes the Italian team don’t need to “worry yet”.
“They’ve improved, and congratulations to the team for developing the car well,” said the Italian.
“But if you look at Russell’s gap at the finish, it was 30 seconds. And 7 tenths in qualifying, that’s also significant.
“But I don’t think we have to worry yet,”
Binotto wasn’t alone in believing Mercedes don’t need to be worried about at the moment.
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, who has been very vocal about both Mercedes and Hamilton in the past, doesn’t see the German’s as a “serious opponent”.
“Mercedes is not yet a serious opponent – you could see that when Sergio Perez easily passed Russell.” Marko said.
Despite shrugging off Mercedes’ new found pace, it’s evident that both are concerned at the speed of which the eight-time reigning World Champions are improving.
“But they are getting closer,” the Austrian admitted.
“And maybe it happens even faster than we would like.”
A gap does still remain between Mercedes and the top teams, it’s likely this may not be bridged until the side introduce their next set of upgrades.
However, with all three suffering from reliability issues, perhaps out-right pace isn’t what will win the title.
Unlike Ferrari and Red Bull, neither Mercedes driver has retired from a Grand Prix this season, which has just about kept them in title contention.
Hamilton came close to a late retirement in Spain though, after suffering from a water leak.
Former F1 driver Timo Glock recognises that Mercedes are now closer, however, he believes they are “still lacking”.
“In qualifying, Mercedes are still lacking quite a bit to Red Bull and Ferrari,” Glock told Sky Deutschland.
“At least they’ve come a little closer, but Mercedes now has to add another (upgrade) package.”