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Hamilton provides verdict on Mercedes' Dutch GP practice pace

Following the practice sessions for the Dutch GP, Lewis Hamilton believes that Mercedes are in a much stronger position pace-wise compared to the previous race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Lewis Hamilton is optimistic of a more competitive display from Mercedes at this weekend's Dutch GP, following strong Friday practice pace. Last weekend's Belgian GP was a disappointment for the Mercedes driver; the W13 was off the pace throughout the weekend, and his race ended in a lap one tangle with Alpine's Fernando Alonso. However, the seven-time World Champion has responded with impressive practice pace at Zandvoort, finishing in third and less than one tenth of a second off the pace of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Speaking after second practice, Hamilton was delighted to have the car set up in a "sweeter spot". “This is a lot better than my Sunday [in Spa] and it’s a lot better than Friday even last week,” Hamilton told media. "It’s been a decent start to the weekend, we’ve landed in a much sweeter spot with the car, being that it’s a much different track and yeah, it’s a work in progress. “We are not that far behind which is great to see, and the car doesn’t feel that bad. "We just have to keep chipping away and the car doesn’t feel that bad performance-wise – there’s probably not a huge amount more performance-wise, but we keep pushing.”

The temperamental nature of the Mercedes W13 has resulted in a season of highs and lows for the team. In the early stages of the season, races such as the Saudi Arabian, Emilia Romagna and Azerbaijan Grands Prix were evidence of Mercedes' struggles. They had appeared to be closing the gap to pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari in the middle third of the season, with strong performances at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix. However, their lacklustre performance at the Belgian GP was further evidence of the sensitivities of the car. Mercedes' Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin was buoyed by their improved pace at Zandvoort, but cautioned that more setup work needs to be completed in order to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari. "The car has been a lot easier to balance here than in Spa and we look to be in a better place in terms of pace; we're still missing a bit on single lap and long run, but the gaps are a lot better than last week," said Shovlin. "Neither driver has the balance where they want it yet and both felt the car was a little easier to drive in the morning. "In the afternoon, we were understeering in some places and lacking stability in others. "Not major issues but ones we are going to need to put right overnight if we plan on giving Red Bull and Ferrari any trouble tomorrow."

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