Mercedes AMG Motorsport are hoping an alternate strategy can pay off at the Russian Grand Prix after missing out on pole position in Sochi.
Lewis Hamilton was four tenths down on the Scuderia Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the final part of qualifying but secured a place on the front row after just pipping the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
The championship leader was pleased with that result as he aims to make it consecutive Russian Grand Prix victories this weekend.
“It feels like a really positive weekend so far and I’m very happy with the job that we’ve done collectively.
“We’ve worked so hard until late last night and again today and it all came together in the end.
“The ultimate goal is always to get as close to 100 percent as possible and I don’t think there was much left in the car today.
“Sochi has always been a track that I struggled at, but today every lap was just getting better and better, there were no real mistakes and particularly the last lap felt good.”
Mercedes have chosen to start on the medium tyres rather than the softs like Ferrari and Hamilton hopes the alternate strategy can put them in the position to fight in the race.
“The Ferraris have some crazy speeds on the straights, so to split them is a very good scenario for us.
“Now we have to try and convert that split into something even better.
“It’s a long run into Turn 1, so it’s not always the best for a start on the harder tyre, but we’ve got to try something and it’s good that we’re able to go for a different strategy tomorrow.
“The team has done a really good job to put us in that position and I look forward to the fight.”
Valtteri Bottas secured his first ever victory at the Sochi Autodrom back in 2017 but struggled in qualifying and will start in fourth and admitted he couldn’t get the best out of the car in the final sector of the lap.
“It was tricky qualifying for me today.
“I was struggling in the last sector, particularly in Turn 13 where I had rear snaps mid-corner in pretty much every qualifying lap.
“Those snaps made the rear tyres overheat which made the rest of Sector 3 really tricky and I didn’t really find a way to drive around the issue.
“In my second run in Q3, the snap was pretty big and I lost multiple tenths there, so I aborted the final lap.”
The straight line advantage Ferrari have pushed Mercedes into making a different tyre choice and Bottas believes their race pace can challenge Leclerc and Vettel.
“The Ferraris are quite a bit faster than us on the straights, our race pace looked decent yesterday and we’re starting on a different tyre to everyone around us, so we can hopefully create some opportunities.”
“It’s still all to play for.”