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Mercedes facing 'ultimate test' in Barcelona 'wind tunnel'

Can Mercedes repeat its Canada feat at a circuit that is a true test of a car's performance?

Russell qualifying Canada
To news overview © Mercedes F1

Mercedes will face the "ultimate test" of its progress this F1 season when it next tackles Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

That is the verdict of F1 champion Damon Hill after witnessing Mercedes storm back to the front of the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix.

George Russell delivered the team's first pole position in 20 races on Saturday, and although the Briton failed to convert that into a victory, it appeared evident the steady rate of development in recent months is now starting to pay dividends.

In possession of the new front-wing, in particular, that was on Russell's W15 in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton declared himself happier than he had felt for a while with the car's handling, only to fall away in Q3 when it mattered most before finishing fourth in the race.

Initially reflecting on how long it had been since Mercedes' last pole, 1996 champion Hill said: "It seems amazing, doesn't it?"

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, he added: "But it has been a long time since they had a car that looked anything like a car that they could campaign with, and the drivers were happy.

"Lewis, notably, was very, very happy. It's not the first time. He did say he was very happy in a few FP sessions and Fridays and stuff, and then it seemed to kind of fade away when it got to qualifying.

"But George did a great job with the car he had to get pole position. The car looked good on the track."

Mercedes no longer 'skittish'

Referencing remarks made by Jacques Villeneuve, who served as a pundit across the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, Hill added: "Jacques mentioned it looked planted, and he was right.

"The car looked like it wasn't skittish and it wasn't porpoising, and it did look like he could use a bit of kerb.

"So they're comfortable, they're happy. The new front wing seems to have been the trick that seems to have harmonised all the aerodynamics, brought about some performance."

As Hill stated, however, the semi-permanent Montreal track is "an outlier" given its unusual layout, with long sections on full throttle punctuated by slow-speed chicanes.

The Spanish Grand Prix venue that features later this month is in stark contrast, and offers a true test of a car's performance.

It is often said that if a car can perform at the venue, then it will generally drive well at any circuit.

"To go with that [car] to Barcelona, which is the next race, that will be the ultimate test of their progress," said Hill on Mercedes.

"Barcelona is really just like a wind tunnel. It is pure aero, medium-to-high speed everywhere."

Also interesting:

Max Verstappen hit back after an out-of-sorts Monaco GP, Sergio Perez floundered again - and into a controversial retirement. How much damage can Ferrari and McLaren inflict with Red Bull fighting with one hand tied behind its back, did the Milton Keynes-based team re-sign Perez too soon? After a thoroughly entertaining Canadian GP, host Nick Golding is joined by Ian Parkes and Samuel Coop to analyse all things.

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here

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