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Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

"Getting that win has definitely given me a lot of confidence that I can do it - because I always thought that I had the ability".

LEWIS Hamilton believes Valtteri Bottas has proved his doubters wrong and insists the Finnish driver must be considered a real threat for this year's three-way title race.

"So there is going to be less speaking about tyres and it's going to be more about the cars, and set-ups and vehicle development". "I have not had the chat about backing off because there is no need to", Hamilton said.

The next stop is the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, where Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are preparing to unleash upgrades.

"I am convinced that we have the most exciting driver pairing in the sport".

With the teams competing at the top of the grid all making changes in Barcelona, Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda is expecting a shake-up. I can't say if it is going to be better this weekend. "It is all very marginal with tyre compounds, interaction with the track, the surface of the track and the track temperature itself".

"Today was an important one for us with the new upgrade package on the auto", Bottas added. "If it is not the case, then I will be more than happy to talk to anyone".

Bottas out qualified Hamilton on Saturday but was behind both the Ferrari's as Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen secured the first front row lockout for the Scuderia since the 2008 French GP. "So, we just need to stretch ourselves to perform as good as we can and, if we do like we did in Russian Federation with Valtteri, we are able to compete".

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"Hopefully our updates will bring us a little bit more to the front", said last year's victor Verstappen, "but I think in every area we can always improve so I think that's what we are aiming to do with the auto". With that said, Horner feels upbeat entering the weekend. "I would like to get back to normal this weekend".

Asked by SSNHQ if he was anxious he and Bottas could split victories between them over the season at the expense of the drivers' title, Hamilton said: "It inevitably does when you have equal opportunity at the team".

Bottas's victory was his first in F1 after he claimed his first pole position at the previous race in Bahrain.

"Barcelona will be interesting as our pre-season was not spectacular in Spain".

"It makes us try harder. So, we are taking this season one race at a time".

Red Bull had a slightly discordant session, with both cars undergoing work at times, but there were signs that the latest upgrade has wrought improvement with the lead RB13 within 1.1s of the Mercedes.

While he is yet to return to the top step of the podium, he has taken trophies home from seven more races in his time at Tilbrook, including a memorable third place in Brazil in hopelessly wet conditions.


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