Lewis Hamilton admits that his results so far feel like a 'real achievement' as the Briton prepares for the start of the European F1 season next weekend in Spain.

The 2008 title winner has two podium finishes to his name so far since his switch from McLaren to Mercedes and has yet to finish outside the top five after the opening four races of the year.

It means Hamilton sits third in the championship standings ahead of the Catalunya race and he admitted that the Spanish weekend would be a good indication of the progress made by his new team since pre-season testing at the circuit earlier in the year.

"We've been boosted by the results that we've had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement," he said. "I'm feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.

"Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then."

With team boss Ross Brawn having already said he hoped for more race pace, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff revealed that some of the upgrades planned for Spain were focused on improving tyre performance on race day to allow the two drivers to fight towards the front.

"In Barcelona, we will test some solutions aimed at improving our tyre management in addition to our planned upgrade package," he said. "The circuit itself is well known as a benchmark for aerodynamic performance and we performed strongly there at the end of winter testing. The track conditions and temperatures will be very different on the race weekend, though, so we must dial the car in to those circumstances.

"Our target is to improve our Sunday afternoon performance to match what we have delivered on Saturday in the past two races. It will certainly be interesting to see what gains everybody has made since the last time we were at the circuit and how the planned upgrade packages work from car to car."



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