Toto Wolff, the boss of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, admitted that although the team did great work to improve the car between Free Practice 3 and Qualifying, it just wasn’t enough to beat Scuderia Ferrari for pole.
The Mercedes team has struggled all weekend, and were third and fifth by the end of Free Practice, with Valtteri Bottas almost nine tenths of a second and Lewis Hamilton almost a second and a half behind first-placed Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes were able to bring Bottas and Hamilton to within half a second by the end of Qualifying, and whilst third and fourth on the grid is a relatively bad result for the team, Wolff is looking at the positives.
“The biggest positive point we can take from today was the step forward we made with the car between FP3 and qualifying,” said Wolff.
“After a difficult morning, this put us back in the hunt for pole, but in the end we didn’t have enough at this circuit against Ferrari. Valtteri only missed out on a place on the front row by a small fraction of a second – but this also means he will start from the clean side of the grid.”
Bottas was able to out-qualify Hamilton for the fifth time this season, putting his car third on the grid to Hamilton’s fourth. Whilst Hungary can be a procession, and following two Ferraris is notoriously tricky, Wolff says the fighting will be on track and not in the pits.
“Of course, starting behind two red cars doesn’t make life any easier but it’s a long run to turn one – and this is a circuit where the unexpected can happen,” said Wolff.
“The strategy options look pretty straightforward, so we will need to do our racing out on track not in the pits. It will be an exciting but tough afternoon tomorrow.”