Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was delighted after fourth place in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix raised the Mercedes driver’s hopes of a return to the F1 podium.

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The Briton struggled all year with a bouncing car he called a disaster on Friday, but in rainy weather he posted his best Saturday result in nine races.

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“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” Hamilton told reporters. “Me and Ange (Phys. Angela Cullen) hugged each other in the back of the garage because we both worked so hard.

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“In terms of pure speed on dry surfaces, we are still far from the top four in qualifying in such conditions – which is great.

“It’s very similar to my first Australian qualification in 2007 in terms of excitement.”

Mercedes, which has dominated for the past eight years, has lagged behind rivals Red Bull and Ferrari with a car they have yet to tame.

On Thursday, the FIA ​​governor issued a technical directive aimed at reducing bouncing for safety reasons, which caused particular concern in Azerbaijan over the weekend.

Mercedes tried the modification on Friday but said the stiffness was not effective and would not be used again.

The rivals were already preparing for a fight: Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer suggested that Mercedes could be protested and asked how they were able to produce the part so quickly when others could not.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took part in what he described as a “cheeky” meeting of his fellow executives that reportedly broke out.

“It’s fair that we have a political debate about performance improvements, but I think some of them are taking it too lightly when you look at the health of drivers,” he told Sky Sports.

“I think it was definitely too dangerous to drive these cars in Baku. Everyone got hurt and you could see that the bottom on the straight was pretty dangerous. We saw it yesterday and here.”

Hamilton’s qualification contrasted sharply with Friday, when he did not see any progress.

“A lot of the things we try on this car don’t seem to work,” he said at the time.

“This is not the Montreal that I am used to and that I have driven throughout my career, this is the worst car I have ever felt here.”