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Hamilton praises Mercedes for ‘amazing job’ on W08 F1 car upgrades

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Lewis Hamilton was quick to praise Mercedes for the updates it has brought to its W08 Formula 1 car after dominating Friday practice in Spain, saying the team has done an “amazing job”.

Hamilton has been embroiled in a close fight with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel through the early part of the 2017 season, and currently trails the German by 13 points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Mercedes arrived in Spain with a raft of updates for its W08 car in the hope of creating a gap to Ferrari, and appeared to do so in practice as Hamilton headed up a one-two finish for the Silver Arrows in both sessions.

“First practice was very, very good but in second practice the track changed and shifted quite a lot, so it was slippery and quite a lot slower for everyone, especially with the gusts of wind,” Hamilton said.

“It was massively challenging but still fun nonetheless. The team has done an amazing job with the upgrades and the car is working just as we expected.

“It’s been a much better start to the weekend for me than in Sochi, so I’m very happy. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep working, we want to be number one.”

“It was a pretty good day for the team,” technical director James Allison added. “We have some new bits on the car for this weekend that we wanted to try out and ensure everything was working well with those and it seems like it is.

“At a track that can suffer from high tire degradation, we’re keen to ensure that our car is good on both the long-runs and the short-runs. We feel like we’re in better shape in that compared to winter testing.

“We’ve definitely made some progress and we’ll be in with a shout if we keep up the good work this weekend.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.