Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes were at their "maximum" in Barcelona and admitted he still doesn't have a car capable of beating Red Bull.

The seven-time F1 champion secured his best result and first podium of the season on Sunday, finishing third. But he was still nearly 18 seconds down the road from Max Verstappen, who edged Lando Norris to take his seventh victory of 2024.

Team-mate George Russell was fourth as Mercedes provided more evidence of their improvements in recent weeks. And while Hamilton is pleased with the progress being made, he feels there is plenty more work to be done if he is to win again before leaving for Ferrari next season.

He said: "I think that's the maximum [the car has] got at the moment. We're always fine-tuning it with subtle changes that we make... But we need to bolt some stuff on, some extra bits to be able to compete with these guys.

"Considering where we've come from, I think just having consistency and seeing if we can put the team further up in the points, I think it's got to be the target. Let's just try and have more consistent weekends like this and then we'll see. But we aren't yet currently in a position to be able to fight them for wins.

"I'm hoping that we are able to eke a little bit closer to them and give them a bit more trouble in the next four or five races." Hamilton also produced his best qualifying performance of the year to date by securing third on the grid, one place ahead of Russell.

It was only the second time all year he has put in a faster time than his team-mate and pointed to Mercedes' one-lap pace as the main weakness of their cars. He explained: "I still feel like I lost performance going into quali.

"It's all about perspective - maybe they just moved forwards, but I definitely feel like there was a little bit more. But just as you start to push the car, it doesn't like it. In practice, when you leave a little bit of margin, the car feels quite nice.

"But it's when you start to really lean on it to try and get that extra bit of lap time out where we really struggle. And I think it's all in the tyres." Meanwhile, Russell is more confident that Mercedes have "definitely" established themselves as a threat once again to the three teams above them.

He said: "It's been a couple of races in a row now, we're fighting for the front rows of the grid, fighting for podiums. It's really exciting to see the progress we've made and I feel like we can really build from this now."

2024-06-24T11:56:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd