Although Mercedes have not yet found themselves in proper contention for race victories in 2022, they are getting closer, and the W13 showed more encouraging signs of competitiveness at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
George Russell scored his maiden F1 pole position, and while he ultimately wasn’t able to hang on for his first win, Mercedes celebrated their second straight double-podium.
Hamilton’s strong race pace enabled him to catch and pass Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the same strategy, before his late charge to second place was complete when he overtook Mercedes teammate George Russell.
It marked the seven-time world champion’s fifth consecutive podium finish.
“It’s a great feeling for us, given the year we’ve had, and obviously to see the progress that we’ve started to make,” Hamilton said after the race in Hungary.
“Last week [in France], just getting the second place last week was huge for us already, and this is now two races in a row that George and I have shared a podium, which is fantastic for the team, points-wise.
“To both finish ahead of the Ferraris is huge for us, given the pace that they’ve had. And for me, obviously, starting the race in seventh and getting up here is a great recovery.
“I think given the troubles we had through the weekend, that shows that we’ve got really great pace.”
Over the last six races, only championship leader Max Verstappen (133) has scored more points than Hamilton (96), who is sixth in the drivers’ standings and just 12 points behind fourth-placed Russell.
Meanwhile, in the constructors’ championship, a combination of Mercedes consistency and a string of Ferrari failures – both mechanical and strategic – has enabled the German manufacturer to reduce the gap to second place to just 30 points.
Given Mercedes’ recent improvements, there is a genuine chance they could overhaul Ferrari during the final nine races of the season.
“Second – first loser,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff when asked if there is a chance to beat Ferrari to second place in the constructors’.
“For me, personally, whether [we are] second or third in the constructors’ world championship, is not so relevant compared to really racing and being at the front.
“Developing the car so we can win races on merit, beat the Ferraris, beat the Red Bulls and prepare for next year, rather than really care about the championship position.”
In the drivers’ championship, Russell is now just 20 points behind Leclerc, with Hamilton trailing the Monegasque by 32 points.
Based on current form and momentum, you would not put it past the Mercedes drivers to end up second and third in the championship (in either order) by the end of the campaign.
More upgrades to come for Mercedes
Following the French Grand Prix, Mercedes’ strategy director James Vowles said the team still have “far, far more” upgrades to introduce across the remainder of the season.
Mercedes have now confirmed they are planning to bring updates to the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the month following F1’s summer break.
“We’ve got more coming,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
“We are trying to bring some performance to Spa that will hopefully close that gap, we haven’t got far to go now. But we’ll keep developing the car for a little while now.
“We’re quite excited though, the last few races have been the most fun we’ve had all year and we are just hoping that we can take that extra step because we definitely want to be winning races in the near future.
“So we are working hard to try and achieve that.”