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Lewis Hamilton encouraged by Mercedes development plan as more upgrades arrive for Emilia Romagna GP

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell encouraged by the direction the team is heading in with more W15 upgrades at Imola; watch the Emilia Romagna GP from Friday with Practice One at 12.30pm live on Sky Sports F1, all the way to Sunday's race at 2pm

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell say Mercedes have found their 'North Star' regarding changes to their cars to be more competitive

Lewis Hamilton says he is "excited" by Mercedes' forthcoming upgrades with the seven-time champion hopeful they now finally have a "North Star" to follow in pursuit of improved pace.

On an Imola weekend where most of the leading teams are introducing some form of car upgrade, Mercedes will have new parts on the W15 for the second race in succession.

The former champions are yet to finish a Grand Prix in a position higher than fifth this season but Hamilton took heart from their late-race pace last time out at the Miami GP, when he finished on the tail of Red Bull's Sergio Perez, on a weekend where set-up time for the upgrades brought to that event was restricted by the nature of the Sprint weekend.

"The last race was positive and there's a long way to go," said Hamilton, whose sixth place in Miami was his personal best on a Sunday of a disappointing 2024 so far.

"I'm just really excited for the developments that are coming. We had a step in the last race and we have got a step this weekend and there's more in the pipeline.

"I feel like we have found more of a North Star of what we need to do and change. It just takes time but the energy in the team is amazing.

Image: Hamilton arrives in the Imola paddock on Thursday

"They are so resilient in this team. They are continuing to push even though we have been knocked down quite a few times.

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"We just need to continue to keep our heads down and stay focused and do the best job we can each weekend."

Hamilton says Mercedes remain in the "discovery process" with the W15 - which is the much-changed successor to last year's disappointing W14 - and that it had a "very small window" in which they can access its peak performance consistently.

But he believes the progress being seen back at their Brackley pace is genuine and that the team are working hard to accelerate the arrival of further development parts to the track ahead of a busy summer of races.

"It's just a patience game and making do [with] what you have," said Hamilton.

"Making the most of the tools you have at your disposal today, tomorrow and this weekend. But it is really encouraging that we are seeing progress back at the factory in the wind tunnel.

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The F1 Podcast team discuss where McLaren's form leaves Mercedes and whether the Brackley team can make any headway in 2024?

"We do have new components coming, and that's always an exciting part of the process. Trying out a lot of different things and then finding out what works and what doesn't. The fact that we do have a direction forwards, and we've tested it on the simulator, you are then itching to get those bits.

"This is a real, real pushing time for people in terms of spending time at the factory and getting these things brought earlier. We need all hands-on deck, and we know we have that already."

'It's very clear the direction we need to head'

Having acknowledged they needed to go in a completely different direction with their car design in F1's current ground-effect rules era after underwhelming 2022 and 2023 seasons which featured just one race win, Mercedes' 2024 challenger has yet to deliver the team a performance breakthrough.

They have been outperformed by Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren in the opening six rounds of the campaign, but George Russell too shares team-mate Hamilton's encouragement about what lies ahead.

"It's been impressive to see how the team have all come together, putting in so many hours back at the factory to try and bring these developments onto the car quicker, working hard to make the car faster," said Russell.

"It's very clear the direction we need to head and that gives people motivation and a clear platform, where we need to develop upon. Time will tell in the coming races.

"All the motivation has not dipped whatsoever and everybody is so motivated to get Mercedes back to the top."

Hamilton on Norris and McLaren

Hamilton, meanwhile, also had warm words for F1's newest race winner Lando Norris after the McLaren driver's maiden triumph in Miami.

"It was really great to see Lando get that win and I'm sure there's many to come," said Hamilton, who is F1's record-holder on 103 race victories.

"We'll work as hard as we can that we're there."

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Lando Norris tells us what he has done since being an F1 race winner but still thinks the McLaren is third in the pecking order

McLaren run a Mercedes engine and Hamilton added: "We've always known that the engine's not the problem.

"The engine is great. The guys continue to do an amazing job in terms of developing that technology and in the hybrid era we have been right at the top in terms of our development rate, performance and reliability.

"So that hasn't ever been an issue. So anyone buying our engines knows what they are getting.

"But we know on the car side we haven't done the best of jobs in the last couple of years and we are working as hard as we can to rectify that."

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Sky Sports F1's live Emilia Romagna GP schedule

Friday May 17
8:50am: F3 Practice
10am: F2 Practice
12pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
2pm: F3 Qualifying
2:55pm: F2 Qualifying
3:45pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)
5:30pm: The F1

F1 visits Europe for the first time in 2024 with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola

Saturday May 18
9am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.10pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying
5pm: Ted's Qualifying Notebook
5.30pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Sunday May 19
7.30am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Emilia Romagna GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag: Emilia Romagna GP reaction
5pm: Ted's Notebook
8pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Formula 1 heads to Europe as Imola returns to the calendar following last year's cancelled race. Watch the Emilia Romagna GP this weekend, with Sunday's race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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