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Hamilton eyes Barca boost

LEWIS HAMILTON is hopeful the recent mini-break has proved enough for Mercedes to propel him into the hunt for race victories this season.

Hamilton has made a better-than-expected start to life at Mercedes, scoring a pole position, two third-place finishes and two fifths in the four grands prix to date.

Ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, the 28-year-old is third in the drivers' standings, 27 points adrift of triple champion Sebastian Vettel, and 17 shy of Kimi Raikkonen in second.

Whilst Mercedes has so far excelled in qualifying, Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg – on pole in Bahrain last time out – have been let down by the race pace of their car.

If Hamilton and Rosberg are to challenge for victories, Mercedes have to prove they now have more in their armoury on race day around the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.

Happy enough so far, but wanting more, Hamilton said: "We've been boosted by the results we've had at the start of the season.

"To come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement.

"But we know the areas we need to improve, so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners."

It was at Barcelona earlier this year the 11 teams spent eight of the available 12 testing days, so Hamilton believes the weekend "should be a good benchmark of the progress made since then".

Team principal Ross Brawn knows there is scope for improvement, with his staff pulling out all the stops to try and elevate Hamilton and Rosberg on to the top step of the podium.

"In the two weeks since we returned from Bahrain, there has been a lot of hard work taking place in Brackley and Brixworth to prepare for the start of the European season in Barcelona," said Brawn.

"We have focused our efforts in two key areas; finalising our upgrade package for Spain, and understanding our comparative lack of race pace in Bahrain.

"We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation.



"We're not there yet, but we are making progress, and performing in the race is what really counts."

Given the cold and often wet conditions in February and early March throughout testing, the weather this weekend is naturally scheduled to be much warmer.

Throw in the fact their rivals will also be running cars with their own upgrades, and Mercedes face a much different task compared to that of just over two months ago.

Brawn added: "The Circuit de Catalunya is one we know well and we have a lot of data from the two pre-season tests to help prepare for the weekend.

"However, in the late spring conditions we can expect the track to be of a very different nature to what we experienced earlier this year.

"Overtaking is more difficult than at some of the early season tracks and, of course, every team will be bringing new developments, so the weekend should provide an interesting challenge."