Fans on social media have reiterated their support for Sir Lewis Hamilton after some spectators made a sign mocking the seven-time champion.
Hamilton is 23 points behind team-mate George Russell in the Drivers’ Championship having been out-raced by him in all of the last four races, although a couple of those can be attributed partly to fortunately timed Safety Cars.
The qualifying battle is neck-and-neck between the pair after six rounds of the 2022 season, and the 24-year-old has impressed at the Spanish Grand Prix so far this weekend by out-performing Hamilton in every session, and he will start the race fourth with the 37-year-old in sixth.
Russell has perhaps adapted to the slower Mercedes car slightly better than Hamilton having raced towards the back of the grid for three seasons with Williams, but has clearly displayed his enormous talent by beating Hamilton overall thus far this season.
However, some of the spectators attending the race in the sweltering heat of Barcelona erected a sign mimicking Rob Smedley’s radio message to Felipe Massa at the 2010 German Grand Prix when the Brazilian was told to move over and give the win to Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.
“HAMILTON! RUSSELL IS FASTER THAN YOU,” read the sign.
Naturally, this sparked plenty of discontentment from Twitter users, who condemned the impolite message.
“I wish people would put as much time into actually supporting their favourites rather than hating on a driver who did absolutely nothing wrong. Horrible,” was one reply.
“I mean imagine how much [Fernando] Alonso paid people,” said another, referring to the tense rivalry Hamilton had with the Spaniard during his year with him at McLaren in 2007.
On the whole, Mercedes’ pace has looked better this weekend after a difficult opening five rounds of the year, but the consistency they have shown in Spain has been the most telling factor that they are finally beginning to understand the W13 and its odd characteristics.
They have not been suffering from anywhere near as much “porpoising” as they have done previously this year, so Hamilton is thoroughly pleased with the efforts at the Silver Arrows’ Brackley base.
“The team have done such a great job so big, big, big thank you to everyone continuing to push back at the factory,” he told Sky Sports.
“We don’t have bouncing in a straight line which is a huge improvement for us.
“It’s generally been nicer this weekend. We do have some bouncing through the high-speed corners like Turn Three and Nine, but we just need to keep working away at it and trying to see if we can improve that and gain a little bit more downforce elsewhere.”
Fourth and sixth is Mercedes’ best overall qualifying of the 2022 season so far, and they will hope to translate it into their third podium finish of the season on Sunday.