Toto Wolff said his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team almost shot themselves in the foot by sticking to their plan to only run the Ultrasoft Pirelli tyre during the opening phase of Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, but after then he was full of praise for Lewis Hamilton, who ultimately took a dominant pole position.
Hamilton did a lap that was only good enough for fourteenth fastest in the first segment of Qualifying but was on fire for the rest of the session with the Hypersoft tyre, advancing into the top ten shootout before breaking the lap record to take his seventy-ninth pole position of his career.
“That was an incredible, horrible session!” said Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “Just a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. We nearly dropped out in Q1 after sticking to the UltraSoft tyre, which was a nerve-wracking wait to make sure we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot at the first opportunity.
“Then Lewis produced one of the most incredible qualifying laps I have witnessed to take pole position.”
Mercedes had gone into the weekend expecting to be behind both Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, but Wolff praised the hard work being put in back in the factories in Brackley and Brixworth that allowed Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who qualified fourth, to excel.
“I just have to say a big thank you to all the team back at base in Brackley and Brixworth, who have worked so hard to understand our problems at this circuit and to improve on our weaknesses,” said Wolff.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the step forward in understanding we have made, with Valtteri splitting the Ferraris and Lewis right at the sharp end of the grid by a healthy margin.”
Wolff knows the hard work will continue on Sunday as they fight for the victory, and he insists the team will keep their focus to ensure the best result possible for both drivers.
“Now we need to put aside the happiness from today because we haven’t scored any points yet this weekend,” he said. “The real job comes on Sunday and, like we have seen in recent races, the balance can swing very quickly.
“We will keep our heads down, focus on the job and make sure we deliver tomorrow.”