“What a result for our team,” Hamilton told Sky Sports afterwards. “We definitely didn’t expect to have this result today so I just want to take my hat off to my team and a big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory who are continuing to push and bringing us closer to the (Red) Bulls.”
Hamilton turned in an impressive performance at the Grand Prix, overtaking Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to take second place, and he never looked like relinquishing it.
Behind him, Russell gained nine places as he maneuvered his way through the field up to third and held off a late charge from Sergio Perez in the all-conquering Red Bull car.
“A sign of things to come hopefully,” Russell told Sky Sports afterwards. “It definitely feels better, just putting in those lap times and comparing with the other guys, Aston and Ferrari, we’re just quicker and quicker and quicker. Really pleased to be on the podium.”
Russell and Hamilton finished on the podium behind Verstappen. - Hasan Bratic/picture alliance/Getty Images
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have struggled to hit their usual heights since that fateful race in Abu Dhabi 18 months ago when the British driver controversially lost out on a record-breaking eighth world title.
While Red Bull has exerted its dominance since, Hamilton finished sixth in the drivers’ championship last year and Russell finished fourth. This year, it is Hamilton who currently sits in fourth, with Russell a place behind him.
It was the first race this season in which Mercedes displayed its upgraded car, with hopes of surpassing its current rivals such as Aston Martin and Ferrari, even if Red Bull is still far ahead of all other competition.
“We took some decisions to go in another direction,” Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff told Sky Sports afterwards.
“We changed so many parts so had variables we didn’t understand. So it was a risky move but everybody pushed forward and we got a good race car. I think we just needed the shock at the beginning of the season to understand that this is not going forward.”
The upgraded car, however, was still no match for Verstappen who won his third consecutive race and fifth out of seven races this season.
“I think (Red Bull is) still a bit too quick at the moment but we’re working on it,” Hamilton added afterwards, tempering expectations. “One step at a time and if we can get close by the end of the year that would be awesome but if not next year.”
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com