The Mercedes-AMG team had a mixed qualifying session with Lewis Hamilton grabbing his third consecutive pole position but Nico Rosberg fell behind the Red Bull Racing drivers of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel to qualify fourth.
In the third wet qualifying session out of four, Hamilton broke the British record for the number of career poles by taking his 34th and moving ahead of the legend that is Jim Clark in the list, and now is in the top four behind only Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Sebastian Vettel. But the Brit admitted the session was not easy as conditions meant tyre choice bordered on intermediate and full-wets throughout.
“It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it,” said Hamilton afterwards. “It’s definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together. The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend.
“Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we’ll be hoping it’s a dry race to take advantage of the position we’re in. We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday. We made a lot of changes to the car and I haven’t yet had a chance to try them in the dry. It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I’m hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow.”
Team-mate Rosberg struggled more than Hamilton, and spun coming out of the final corner on his final lap, the second of two mistakes he made during the final part of qualifying that saw him ultimately only qualify fourth.
“I had two main problems today,” admitted Rosberg. “I wasn’t totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second to last lap. Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner – but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two tenths slower. So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway.
“However, fourth place is not a disaster. I was quick on Friday doing the race preparation so I am still confident that there is everything to play for tomorrow.”
Both drivers will be hoping to make it three consecutive 1-2 finishes tomorrow, while the team will be hoping to make it four wins on the bounce.