Toto Wolff saw his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team lock out the front row of the grid for the French Grand Prix, with the Austrian pleased to see the new power unit, introduced to all three Mercedes-powered teams this weekend, perform well.
Lewis Hamilton secured his seventy-fifth career pole position on Saturday and will be joined on the front row by team-mate Valtteri Bottas, two weeks after a relatively lacklustre weekend in Canada, with Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport saying Formula 1 continues to be a rollercoaster of emotions for him.
Mercedes only introduced the new power unit this weekend after using the older-specification in the opening seven races of the season, and will be learning while using it for the first time in race conditions on Sunday.
“This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions and, after the blow we took two weeks ago in Montreal, it’s fantastic to have both cars on the front row here in Paul Ricard,” said Wolff.
“The team has put blood, sweat and tears into our development programmes over the past weeks and months – and this weekend’s package is the first part of that work to come to fruition.
“The headline has been the new Power Unit, which has been a massive effort from all the team in Brixworth, but we are continuing to learn and improve in every area of how we run the car, and that work is starting to pay off.”
Wolff admitted it was not expected for Mercedes to lock out the front row but he knows the important day is still to come, and with a different tyre strategy to that of Scuderia Ferrari, there are still questions to be answered to who will have the advantage on Sunday.
Both Hamilton and Bottas, as well as the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers, will start on the red-banded Supersoft Pirelli tyre at the Circuit Paul Ricard, but both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen will use the purple-banded Ultrasoft compound.
“Having said all of that, we didn’t come here expecting to put our cars first and second on the grid – it is so close this season between the top three teams that every detail counts, and I’m really proud of the work that we have done since being caught off guard in Montreal,” said Wolff.
“But today is only Saturday – the points are given out tomorrow. There is uncertainty over the weather, and we have taken a different approach to tyre strategy compared to Ferrari, so there are plenty of questions to be answered before we can consider this a job well done.”