(CNN) — Mercedes secured their first double podium finish of the year when Lewis Hamilton came second and George Russell third in the Spanish Grand Prix, another race won again by a Max Verstappen dominating the competition.
“What an achievement for our team,” Hamilton later told Sky Sports. “We definitely didn’t expect to get this result today, so I just want to take my hat off to my team and give a huge thank you to everyone at the factory who keep pushing and bringing us closer to (red) Tori.”
Hamilton put in an impressive performance in the race, passing Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to take second, and never seemed to give up.
Behind him, Russell gained nine places as he worked his way up to third and held off a late charge from Sergio “Checo” Perez in the winning Red Bull.
“A sign of things to come, hopefully,” Russell told Sky Sports. “It definitely feels better, just putting those lap times in and comparing them to the other guys, Aston and Ferrari, we’re always faster. Very happy to be on the podium.”
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have struggled to reach their usual heights since that fateful race in Abu Dhabi 18 months ago when the British driver controversially lost his eighth world title.
While Red Bull have exerted their dominance since then, Hamilton finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship last year and Russell finished fourth. This year it is Hamilton who currently sits in fourth place, with Russell one place behind him.
It was the first race this season where Mercedes showed improvement in their car, hoping to overtake current rivals such as Aston Martin and Ferrari, although Red Bull are still well ahead of all other competitors.
“We have made some decisions to go in another direction,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff later told Sky Sports.
“We changed so many parts that we had variables that we didn’t understand. So it was a risky move but everyone pushed forward and we got a good racing car. I think it just took the scare at the start of the season to figure out this wasn’t going to go forward.
However, the improved car is still no match for Verstappen, who won his third consecutive race and fifth of seven races this season.
“I think (Red Bull) is still too quick at the moment, but we’re working on it,” Hamilton added later, tempering expectations. “One step at a time and if we could get closer to the end of the year that would be great, but if not next year.”