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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton banking on duel Mercedes threat to challenge Norris and Verstappen

An all-Mercedes second row could prove crucial in challenging polesitter Lando Norris and second-on-the-grid Max Verstappen for victory.

Norris Hamilton Verstappen Qualifying Spain
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Lewis Hamilton feels he and Mercedes team-mate George Russell can work in tandem to apply pressure on Lando Norris and Max Verstappen throughout the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes underlined their performance in Canada a fortnight previously, when Russell scored pole position, was no flash in the pan as Hamilton and his fellow Briton will start third and fourth, the duo separated by just two-thousandths of a second.

In front of them is Norris on pole for only the second time in what will be his 115th grand prix, the McLaren driver beating Red Bull's Max Verstappen by two-hundredths of a second. It is the first time in two years the Dutchman has gone three consecutive races without clinching top spot on the grid.

Although Hamilton and Russell were three-tenths behind Norris, they can at least bring strategy into play given Oscar Piastri and Sergio Perez are not in a position to play a supporting role to Norris and Verstappen as they start ninth and 11th respectively.

Seven-time F1 champion Hamilton readily concedes it will "be very difficult" to challenge for the win, but feels there is at least a window of opportunity.

"I think these two will be very quick," he said, referring to Norris and Verstappen. "But position is everything, and there's two of us, so hopefully we can apply pressure as a team to both of the cars ahead in order to maybe play out something in strategy and slowly climb up.

"I think it's all about degradation and how you look after the tyres, so we won't know until we get into that first run."

Mercedes team work key for Hamilton

Although racing with one eye on Norris and Verstappen ahead, Hamilton recognises he will also need to look over his shoulder at the all-Ferrari third row of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz if he is to at least land a podium.

The 39-year-old again reiterated it will be about Mercedes working in harmony to either protect, or improve, its positions.

"The bigger concern probably is the Ferraris behind us," he added. "We were all within half a tenth, I think, from third to sixth (0.035s), and they had an upgrade this weekend. I think their long-run pace looked quite strong.

"It's more working together as a team and trying to hold position at least. If we happen to have more pace available to us and we're able to hold on to these guys (Norris and Verstappen), then it's game on.

"Again, degradation is always the key here, and when you have a really good rear end, you can save your balance, but you can save the rear tyres. So that's going to be key."

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