LEWIS HAMILTON has received a timely boost in connection with his contract extension at Mercedes.
The Briton was fastest in the dry in the second practice session of the Canadian GP and although he was only 10th on the timesheets in the rainy final session, there is a belief that Mercedes are now on the right track.
Closer to a two-year deal worth £100million, Hamilton now has reason to be optimistic he will be able to challenge Max Verstappen next season.
James Allison, Merc Technical Director said: “Can this car become competitive enough to win a race this year? If there was a tailwind, I would say: yes, it can.”
“If we do the right things for the rest of this year and over the years, can we be in a championship fight the following year? Even more yes.”
Allison’s comments will be welcome news for Hamilton, who has not won a race since the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.
The team struggled with the design of their car and had to scrap it after qualifying at the Bahrain GP for the first race of the season.
Hamilton, who is eyeing a role as a Merc ambassador for his exit from Formula One, commented positively on the team’s improvements introduced since the Monaco GP.
At the Canadian GP, Hamilton said: “I definitely feel the improvements that we felt in Monaco, I feel them here.”
“I love driving this track. she is awesome As soon as you leave the pit lane, you think: ‘Yes, that’s awesome!’
“We made progress with the car. At the last race we were all back at the factory, the whole team has this new energy and we feel like we have a North Star – we know where we are.” We go and how to get there.
However, the drop in temperature meant that Mercedes struggled in the wet ahead of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has faced more criticism after his accident in Montreal.
The Spaniard was also dragged to the stewards for blocking Alex Albon during FP3.
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Sainz’s miserable run was stopped when he crashed into the guardrail at turn one, bringing out the red flags.
He got out of the car unharmed but the pressure is mounting on Sainz, who finished sixth in the championship.
Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button said: “He touched the white line and lost the rear end, it could be the gearbox, front and rear fenders and the floor. So much damage.”