Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff says it’s great to see both Silver Arrow cars to start the front row for Formula 1‘s 1000th Grand Prix in Shanghai, China.
Both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton lock out the front row for the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, with championship leader Bottas capturing pole position ahead of his team-mate.
Mercedes were the leading force in qualifying and prevented both Scuderia Ferrari cars throughout qualifying from claiming the front row throughout, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc starting on the row behind them.
Bottas looked strong throughout the weekend and in qualifying, placing a 1:31.547 to go fastest overall. Hamilton struggled to get to grips with his Mercedes on Friday, but was able to put on a display on Saturday and secure second place on the grid.
Both Ferrari cars were the quicker cars down the straights, but Mercedes manage to find time in the corners which assisted both Bottas and Hamilton on their laps.
Wolff said that the extra speed carried in the corners was what kept Mercedes ahead of the Ferrari’s in qualifying.
“It’s great to see both our cars on the front row for the 1000th Grand Prix. The Ferraris squeezed it all out and were very fast again on the straights, but we were quicker in the corners and that was ultimately how we stayed ahead today,” said Wolff.
“Our car looks really good in terms of downforce level, but we need to improve our straight-line speed. It is always a combination of power and drag, so we need to leave no stone unturned on the chassis and the power unit to recover a little bit.
“Valtteri was strong all weekend long and put in some good laps in Qualifying. Lewis was struggling with the grip before the session and was a few tenths behind this morning, but he did a very good job recovering in the session that mattered.”
Out of the three weekends so far in 2019, this is Mercedes’ second pole position and Bottas’ first of the season. Australia saw the team dominate to a one-two finish with Bottas winning the first race of the year.
At the Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari had the pace advantage over Mercedes, but the Italian team failed to captialise a win with a spin by Vettel and Leclerc suffering an engine issue gifted the Silver Arrows another one-two finish.
Wolff mentions how the swing from the weekends is looking to make the season interesting to follow in 2019.
“We’re seeing massive swings from weekend to weekend, even within one team, and it makes this season really interesting. Valtteri was in a class of his own in Melbourne, he struggled in Bahrain, but then he has come back here. For Lewis it was the other way around; he had some issues in the race in Australia, but was really strong in Bahrain.
“If you look at Leclerc and Vettel it’s very similar. It makes racing unpredictable and I’m sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow as well.
“Our long run pace looked decent yesterday, but we expect a close battle between Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves so we need to keep pushing.