Toto Wolff was surprised to see his Mercedes AMG Motorsport lock out the front row of the grid ahead of the British Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas pipped team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.006 seconds in qualifying at Silverstone with Charles Leclerc a very close third as the top three were separated by less than a tenth of a second.
Mercedes had looked second favourites to Scuderia Ferrari to secure pole position as the Italian team was quickest in Free Practice 3 and throughout most of the qualifying sessions but when it mattered, the silver arrows “found their rhythm” according to team principal Wolff.
“To have both cars on the front row today came as a little bit of a surprise for us because we were on the back foot through qualifying.
“We expected Ferrari to be very strong but when we came to Q3, they seemed to go backwards and we went forwards; the grip on track ramped up, the drivers found their rhythm and it all came towards us.”
It’s a fourth pole position of the season for Bottas and the Finn says he had missed the feeling as he topped the timing sheets in qualifying for the first time in five races but admitted the pole lap was not perfect.
When I got the radio call that I qualified on pole, I was just really happy – I’ve been missing this feeling.
“It’s very difficult to beat Lewis here, he’s always very strong in Silverstone.
“My lap wasn’t perfect, there was still some margin left to improve, but no one got a perfect lap together, so it was enough in the end.”
Hamilton is aiming to secure a record breaking sixth victory at Silverstone but to do it he will have to pass his team-mate who he said “did the better job” and like him, did not feel he delivered a perfect lap.
Congratulations to Valtteri, he ultimately did the better job today.
“It wasn’t the best of qualifying sessions for me, I had a difficult run in Q2 and the first run in Q3 was also not very good.
“The last one was ok, but certainly not perfect – it’s just one of those days, sometimes you get into a rhythm and then other days you don’t.
“But there’s more to come; it’s a long race tomorrow, so I will try and see how I can progress forward from the position I’m in.”
Mercedes chief technical director James Allison is looking forward to an exciting race and hopes the team can convert their front row lock out into a one two in the race on Sunday.
“We now look forward to an exciting race: hopefully we can use the good launch pad of the front row to deliver some of the long-run performance we saw during Friday practice.”