Hamilton smiling again after improved Mercedes shine again

·1-min read

Five days after trudging away from his opening lap crash in Belgium, Lewis Hamilton rediscovered his smile and some optimism on Friday when he was third-fastest in opening practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion topped the times briefly in his Mercedes before being outpaced by the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

"That's a lot better than last Sunday and it's a lot better than last Friday too," he said, referring to his collision with two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Alpine.

"So, yeah, it's been a decent start to the weekend. We've landed in a much sweeter spot with the car, being that it's a much different track and it's a work in progress.

"We are not that far behind, which is great to see, and the car doesn't feel that bad. We just have to keep chipping away.

"The car doesn't feel that bad performance-wise, but we keep pushing."

Team-mate George Russell was fastest in the opening session, but fifth in second practice.

"Much better than Spa!" said Russell. "The car's working better, there's no doubt about it. It's going to be close tomorrow, I think.

"McLaren are looking quick, even Aston Martin, and we still know qualifying is our weak point, but I think the race will come towards us and I think our long run pace is looking strong.

"But you've got to be starting in the right position, you know – if we're starting on row three, it's going to be difficult to battle for first or second."