Scintillating Hamilton back on top in Barcelona

Vettel confident Ferrari can solve ‘Rubik’s Cube’ car

The Finn had lost running time after spinning and going off early in the session.

The five-times world champion said after Bottas won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the team's fourth successive one-two finish, that he had been "too friendly" at the start and "basically gave it to him". There's nothing wrong but it just needs more grip.

The Spanish race is traditionally where teams first introduce mods to their cars, though there haven't been major announcements yet apart from Haas' Romain Grosjean claiming his car's design is "pretty much brand new".

Hamilton said his laps in the final phase of qualifying could have been better, with a scrappy first effort kicking up gravel, but the upgrades brought by Mercedes to the start of the traditional European part of the campaign were working well. So, could Friday's woes be solved with a better understanding of the data and some setup tweaks overnight?

For Vettel's teammate Charles Leclerc, an individual error caused some bodywork damage. "But this is a thing that can be fixed and also things that are not un-normal when you are putting new parts on the auto". "Of course, I would have liked to get a bit further to the front, and we still have to find some time".

But drill a bit deeper into where Ferrari is losing time and it's a familiar picture that emerges.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has been a notoriously hard track to overtake on in the past, but strategy can provide a way for drivers to gain or lose positions.

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"The early introduction does not mean that we cannot still use P1 in some races, that can be an option", Binotto said at Friday's news conference. "If it was easy, we would just fix it, but now we are all working very hard and trying still to just understand why we are losing out in these types of corners - sometimes more than other times".

As Hamilton admitted, Bottas has looked like the man all weekend and assuming he leads into the first corner, he will be tough to beat.

"There are things that happen in the background that you won't know, and I don't really feel this is the place to talk about it", Hamilton said yesterday at the Mercedes motorhome. "The auto felt really good today, completely different to how it was in winter testing".

"I can't put a number on it, but a decent step in terms of upgrades and performance is how it is looking".

But there were signs Ferrari's garage work could come to fruition on race day with Vettal and Leclerc not far behind ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton in fourth.

Hamilton, meanwhile, revealed why Mercedes still has some cause for concern when it comes to engine power and Saturday afternoon. "But I think that the gap is not so big and the points of the results are not reflecting the true potential of the cars". "Still it's really positive for us to be up there".

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