Sir Lewis Hamilton is elated with the comeback drive that saw him finish the Spanish Grand Prix in fifth following contact with Kevin Magnussen.
Having started sixth, Hamilton found himself being challenged by the Dane into Turn Four on the opening lap, but the pair made contact, giving them both punctures.
Subsequently, Hamilton was put down to P19, but he made an exceptional recovery back up to fourth, and got to within 12 seconds of team-mate George Russell towards the end.
Sadly for the seven-time champion, he was forced to back off because of cooling concerns, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was able to retake fourth having made an earlier costly mistake.
Such a comeback through the field might not have been possible a few weeks ago due to the poor performance of the W13, but they finally looked consistent throughout the entirety of the weekend in Barcelona, so Hamilton praises the work of Mercedes team to get them pointing back in the right direction.
“[I’m] really grateful I was able to come back and grateful to the team for keeping their head down and positive feedback coming through and for all the amazing work to get us to this improvement,” he told Sky Sports.
“The car felt great in the race, our pace was closer to the rest – the top guys in the race – which was amazing.
“[It’s] just really unfortunate at the start to have got the punctures that I got but I didn’t give up so that’s what we do right?”
As for the cooling issue, the 37-year-old was “gutted” to lose out on an extra couple of points, but he will take fifth given what happened at the start.
“I mean it’s just a lot hotter than predicted today,” explained Hamilton.
“I think for everyone it’s quite tough with these cars.
“I don’t know exactly what went on with the car, I’ve not spoken to the team because I’ve been elsewhere but I had to basically just drive at half throttle, and trying to cool the car and lots and lots of lifting down the straight just to try and get clean air and fresh air into the engine just to cool it down.
“Gutted to lose the place to Sainz, especially coming from where I came from, I mean I was 30 plus seconds behind last place.
“I mean, that’s like no man’s land, and I tell you it’s a horrible feeling being that far behind but you just have to keep your head up, just keep pushing, keep going and hoping for better.
“They [Mercedes] said I could maybe get to eighth and eighth doesn’t feel like a particularly impressive result.
“But I was like ‘well at least I’ll get into the points’ and so to have been fighting for fourth, I was so happy with that.”
It has looked as though Mercedes have more or less gotten rid of the “porpoising,” at least in a straight line, but Hamilton would like to eradicate the bouncing in the corners if possible.
“We do still have bouncing but not in a straight line,” he added.
“It’s through corners but nowhere near as bad as what we had before so I think the guys are working really hard so I’m sure we can fix that over time.
“If I hadn’t had that issue at the beginning, who knows where we would have been in the end?
“It’s great to know we had similar pace to some of the front runners.”
Russell scored a podium having been in contention for the win after Charles Leclerc’s retirement, but he was beaten by the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Team principal Toto Wolff, who has previously been fairly dismissive of his team’s chances of competing for the title this year, is now full of optimism.
“Can we fight for a world championship? You bet we can,” he said.
“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.”
Mercedes are now 49 points behind second-placed Ferrari after the Scuderia lost the lead to their misfortunes last weekend.