Toto Wolff commended his team’s “fantastic result” in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, revealing an upgraded aero package may have been to thank.
Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton secured a front row lockout, and did so in commanding fashion. Bottas took pole by just 0.019s over Hamilton, whilst both finished comfortably over three tenths of a second faster than next-fastest driver Sebastian Vettel. What makes their performance even more impressive is that the Red Bull Ring is the fastest lap on the calendar – Bottas’ pole lap was a 1:03.130 – making the pace differential even more troubling for rivals.
This improvement in pace, Wolff says, is thanks to an aero upgrade the Mercedes team brought to Spielberg – an upgrade that comes just a week after the team brought an upgraded engine – and sets them up well for the final leg of the triple header at Silverstone in a week’s time.
“It’s a fantastic result to take the front row here in Spielberg with Valtteri just a few hundredths ahead of Lewis,” Wolff said. “We have been pushing hard in recent weeks to add performance to the car and, after the upgraded engine last week, it was really impressive to see the size of the aero upgrade here at the second race of the triple header.
“The hard work has paid off so far, with the car performing well and handling nicely around this circuit. Valtteri has been on good form all weekend and had a clean qualifying session, building up the performance level with each lap; Lewis also started strongly, after a tricky FP3, but made a mistake on his first lap in Q3. That meant it played out like a perfect thriller, with everything riding on the final runs – Lewis was quicker than the provisional pole time, but Valtteri was a little faster still and took his first pole of the season. It’s a well-deserved result after some really bad luck in recent races.”
Looking ahead to the race, Wolff said he isn’t immediately turning his attention away from qualifying – instead taking time to appreciate the team’s third front row lockout of the season, and another fine result for the team.
“Now, we need to manage the start well to have a strong race. Like last weekend in France, we will start on the SuperSoft, Ferrari on the UltraSoft; this gave them the advantage from the start last weekend, and we need to be conscious of that tomorrow. But those considerations are for this evening, for a few moments now we can enjoy a strong team result – and the best possible starting point for what will be a hard-fought Grand Prix.“