F1 fans taunt Lewis Hamilton with George Russell banner at Spanish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was taunted by a brutal banner in Spain this weekend, as F1 fans took the opportunity to point out that his season has not exactly gone to plan so far. To make matters worse for the seven-time world champion, the message, which teased George Russell’s apparent superiority, came true in the ensuing qualifying sessions. 

After five races, Hamilton is already 23 points behind Russell, who was expected to do little more than cling onto his partner’s coat tails during his debut season with the Silver Arrows. Aside from an unlikely podium in the season’s curtain-raiser, Hamilton has endured a frustrating few weeks. 

At Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, one group of spectators unveiled a huge banner which read: “HAMILTON! RUSSELL IS FASTER THAN YOU.” Indeed, that has broadly turned out to be the case since the start of the new season, and Saturday’s session in Spain proved much the same. 

Sealing sixth and fourth on the grid is hardly a bad day’s work for Mercedes, but it was Hamilton who landed two back in the pecking order as Russell produced another impressive lap. 

DON’T MISS: George Russell agrees with Carlos Sainz and compares F1 health risks to 1960s footballers

Catalonia has always been a difficult track for drivers to pass on, so Hamilton may have a job on his hands to make up ground on his team-mate, let alone the grid’s front-runners. In a result that came as no surprise to anyone, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen will share the front row. 

When Sunday’s Grand Prix gets underway, Hamilton will attempt to avoid being beaten by his much younger team-mate for a fifth successive race. Indeed, Russell is the only driver in the entire field to have finished in the top five on every occasion this year. 

New upgrades look set to make the weekend a more positive one overall for Mercedes, and their crippling porpoising issue finally looks to be somewhat under control. Strong showings in Friday practice were followed up by competitive times on Saturday, which suggested that they had successfully narrowed the gap between themselves, Ferrari and Red Bull. 

After a sequence of race weekends which have thrown up hints of friction and discontent from within the Mercedes camp, Hamilton’s post-qualifying assessment indicated that things are looking up for the team, even if he was ‘gutted’ at where he landed on the grid individually. 

“The team have done a great job so a big, big thank you to everyone for keeping pushing back at the factory because we don’t have bouncing in a straight line which is a huge improvement for us and the car has generally been nicer this weekend,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.

“I am a little bit gutted because I want to be further up ahead, and you have obviously seen George is able to put it up further ahead than me, but I will keep pushing. I think the Red Bulls look like they might be quickest, but we look like we could maybe compete with the Ferraris tomorrow and that is a big step for us.”



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