Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was left feeling “ecstatic” with his second podium of the season as he rolled back the years to take third place at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes veteran has struggled with his car this season and only just made it to Montreal.
The design of this year’s cars has led to some teams suffering from bouncing – known as porpoising – at high speeds, with Mercedes among the worst.
Hamilton needed assistance to get out of his car following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a week ago and required acupuncture and cryotherapy to make it to the grid.
The 37-year-old qualified fourth in the Montreal rain Saturday and went one better in the race, claiming the 184th podium of his career but just his second of a difficult 2022.
Asked how his back was feeling after the race, won by Max Verstappen, Hamilton said: “It’s feeling good, I’m back to feeling young.
“It’s quite overwhelming to get this third place, it has been such a battle this year as a team – I’m so proud and inspired by my crew.
“They are a little bit too quick for us at the moment, I gave everything and we are getting closer and closer.
“I could just about see them at the end thanks to the safety car, our pace was quite good so honestly I’m ecstatic, I didn’t expect it coming into the weekend.
“P3 is different to a win but I think it feels like that. A bit of consistency is coming, finally. I know we can do better, I know I can do more, just need to keep working.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the “very strong” pace of the Mercedes around the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit could see the team be “a factor” at the next race at Silverstone in a fortnight.
‘Keeping up with these guys’
Despite impressing here, Hamilton reined in expectations for when he returns home: “It feels great today to be in amongst the battle and for a second at the end there I was just about keeping up with these guys.
“It has given me and the team a lot of hope that there is more to come from this car, that the potential is truly there if we can get the set-up right. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep working.
“I just want to be in a battle with these guys. At the end when the safety car came in and we started again, the dream was that I could keep in that battle with them and find a way – but they were rapid. We will find a way eventually.”
Hamilton said the bouncing that had caused him such issues on the streets of Baku was “liveable” here.
His weekend greatly improved after an attempt at a set-up change left him unhappy following Friday’s two practice sessions.
This was just the second time this season that Hamilton has beaten new team-mate George Russell – whose run of top-five finishes continued.
Now, the experienced Hamilton wants to pass the buck to Russell when it comes to trialing other ways of catching the front-runners.
“It was just undrivable [on Friday],” he added. “It was just an experiment to see if the car worked there and we made the changes and the car was much better balanced. It was night and day difference.
“We still have bouncing, that isn’t going away, but it was much better than Baku with the suspension that we chose.
“Maybe the second half of the season George can do the experiments. We’re just trying to progress as a team.
“I think moving forward we will be a little bit more cautious on doing too many experiments as it really does hinder you through the weekend.
“I think there is lots of learning from this weekend and improvements we can make moving forward, but we had really great pace and it was so nice to see.”