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Spanish GP: Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen ready for next battle, Lewis Hamilton opens up on struggles

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen will go head to head again from the front row of the grid for today’s Spanish GP, as the title rivals headline a race which is set to also see Mercedes fight Ferrari and Red Bull.

The Spanish GP from Barcelona is live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm, with build-up from 12.30pm, and Leclerc will start on pole ahead of Verstappen, the driver he leads by 19 points in the championship.

It will be the latest instalment of Leclerc vs Verstappen, who have gone wheel to wheel in all five races to start a competitive 2022 season.

But while Leclerc is the title leader and has started on pole ahead of Verstappen for the past three rounds, it was Red Bull’s world champion who triumphed in Imola and Miami and he is once again the favourite today.

Ferrari and Red Bull have had different strategies through the weekend; the former rapid over one lap but seemingly struggling over longer distances, and the latter much more confident with their race pace and tyre wear.

Spanish GP Provisional Grid – Top 10

1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
4) George Russell, Mercedes
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
6) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
7) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
8) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
9) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
10) Mick Schumacher, Haas

Hamilton encouraged but still ‘struggling’ with Mercedes car

George Russell’s fourth on the grid for the Spanish GP represents Mercedes’ best start of the season and the world champions believe they are finally on the right track with their car, seeing their new upgrades make a massive difference on their porpoising and thus improve their pace.

Lewis Hamilton even told Sky Sports F1 that the team believe they can battle Ferrari today.

But while Hamilton is encouraged, he only starts sixth today and was comfortably outqualified by Russell, who he trails by 23 points in the standings.

Speaking to the written media on Saturday night, Hamilton opened up on his struggles.

"My team-mate’s fourth, so that means my car needs to be at least third or fourth, and I’m sixth," said Hamilton.

"I’m still struggling with the rear end of the car and I need to get around that, I don’t know what I’m going to do but I need to keep working hard."

Hamilton, who is aiming for a historic eighth title this season, added: "I’m not really putting my mind [to the title]. I’m still way off."

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