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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car is "at its max" right now and only likes one set-up

Seven-time champion feels Mercedes needs upgrades to close the gap to frontrunners, with the current package unable to deliver more performance

Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes' "peaky" 2024 Formula 1 car is running at its "maximum" performance level without more upgrades and only responds to one set-up.

Hamilton finished third in Sunday's 2024 Spanish Grand Prix – 17.8s behind winner Max Verstappen's Red Bull and Lando Norris following closely for McLaren and the polesitter feeling he should have been victorious.

The result is Hamilton's best of the season so far and represents his first podium appearance since the 2023 Mexican GP, which he called a "big boost to finally get a good result".

"We're slowly getting closer," he added in the post-race press conference. "Last year, we were very fast here, so you have to take it with a pinch of salt, but obviously the last couple of races we've been relatively competitive.

"So, I think we have closed the gap a little bit, but we still have a good couple of tenths to try and find. We just have to have all hands on deck and keep pushing."

When asked if Mercedes was still fine-tuning the W15 package that has recently been updated with a new front wing concept and lighter floor, Hamilton replied: "No, I think that's the maximum it's got at the moment.

"But we're always fine-tuning it with subtle changes that we make. So, we are always fine-tuning it and we continue to tune it through the year.

"But we need to bolt some stuff on, some extra bits to be able to compete with these guys."

Hamilton had to battle back after being overtaken by team-mate and early leader George Russell at the start of the Barcelona race, but he was able to recover the third-place starting spot he had secured with his best qualifying result of the year so far behind Norris and Verstappen on Saturday.

Having discussed his inconsistent qualifying results to this point in 2024, Hamilton revealed that Mercedes' car apparently only responds to a single set in everything he has tried in adjustments since the start of the current rules era, as well as a weakness in tyre preparation.

"Our pace is where we were, basically – third or fourth this weekend," he said.

"But I think our car is generally quite peaky and that means that it's often out of balance. It's very rare that it's in balance and it's nice and smooth through a corner.

"So, set-up – I've obviously experimented a lot with set-up over the last couple of years, but the car doesn't really like any of the set-ups but one.

"It's slowly starting to become nicer to drive. And ultimately tyres. Tyres have been a huge issue for me.

"So, I think we got it half-decent this weekend. If I can make some improvements over the course of the next races, I think there's more performance there."

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