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‘Good to be back,’ says Hamilton after podium return

Lewis Hamilton may be a seven-time world champion and Formula One record holder but his delight at finally finishing on the podium again after a lengthy barren spell on Sunday was plain to see.

The 39-year-old, in his final season at Mercedes before moving to Ferrari, took third at the Spanish Grand Prix to join in the post-race champagne celebrations for the first time since Mexico in October, 2023 and to extend his record of 198 career podium appearances.

His buoyant race form came on the back of a superb qualifying session after a season when he had been bettered by his teammate George Russell 8-1 arriving in Catalonia.

He played down the prospect of ending his long and successful time at Mercedes with a final victory this season, but was upbeat that the team had finally emerged from the doldrums ever since Red Bull stole a march on their rivals with the change in the F1 technical landscape two years ago.

Hamilton, who missed out on a record eighth world title on the last lap of the season in controversial circumstances to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi in 2021, said: “It’s a big boost to finally get a good result and to be back up here.”

The Briton, who shares the record of six wins in Spain with Michael Schumacher, added: “We are slowly slowly getting closer.

“We have to take it with a pinch but I do think we have closed the gap a little bit.

“It’s all hands on deck (back at the Mercedes factory) and we have to keep pushing.

“We have to keep fine tuning the car but we are definitely building momentum.”

Talking about his recent wretched luck in qualifying up to this weekend he said: “My Saturday has been so bad for the past 15 races, it’s good to have a clean weekend.”

Talking about his upcoming switch to Ferrari Hamilton reflected: “I love Mercedes, I’ve been with them since I was 13.

“The job this year is to work as hard as I can, whatever trajectory the team is on there are things that I can be proud of being a part of.

“It would be nice to sign off with a win – but just being consistent at weekends like this is the target.”

Hamilton sits eighth in the world championship, on 70 points, 11 behind teammate Russell, who finished fourth in Catalonia.

Red Bull’s Verstappen won Sunday’s race ahead of Lando Norris in a McLaren.

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