The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team will have driver Lewis Hamilton start on pole position at the 2020 Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, after coming out on top of a very wet weather qualifying.
Mercedes have both drivers in Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in top four of qualifying. As Hamilton took yet another pole position in wet, as he recorded a time of 1m19.273s which was +1.2 second ahead of second-placed Max Verstappen. While Bottas found himself with a trickier qualifying as he qualified down in fourth place.
Hamilton spoke on how he had performed at qualifying, where he took his eighty-ninth career pole position. He commented on the weather as qualifying had been in doubt due to the conditions, which Hamilton often excels in.
“I’m grateful that we got to do Qualifying – I love these days,” said Hamilton. “The weather was incredibly difficult and challenging out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can’t see where you are going.
“I had a big aquaplaning moment on my penultimate lap, so I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the final lap, nice and clean.“
He communicated that he suffered a slight issue with his W11 in the free practice sessions. However, he says he is not worried regarding his pace in the dry.
“After yesterday, the team did a great job looking into what was causing the problem and I felt confident going into today that it wouldn’t be an issue even if it had been dry,” he added.
“Pole position is where I want to be starting the race from so I’m glad it was a trouble-free session; I didn’t make any mistakes. That’s always a positive and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas: “Tricky Conditions can Bring Different Challenges”
Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas expressed his disappointment surrounding himself starting down in fourth, particularly After the Finn won last weeks Austrian Grand Prix. He talked of how hard it was to drive in the wet weather conditions and what he felt he didn’t do in the sessions to allow him to take pole.
“It was not easy out there and I wasn’t aiming to be anything but P1 today,” said Bottas. “But obviously tricky conditions can bring different challenges.
“For me, I don’t think I managed to build enough temperature in the tyres and also my front-right brake was glazing throughout Qualifying, so there was a split in temperatures across the front axle.
“That meant I couldn’t really maximise the potential of the car under braking, which is important for confidence in the wet.“
Bottas concluded by commenting on the disappointment he felt but pointed out that he could still do work in the race. Bottas currently sits on top of the championship table and will be hoping to add to his win last weekend.
“It made for a tricky session and I’m disappointed with P4. But the second row is still within attacking range and tomorrow is a new day. We know how strong the car is in the race, so I’m looking forward to it.“
Wolff Praises Hamilton’s Pole Lap in Wet Conditions
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes Team Principal, has spoken on the session for the team and how much of a positive it was. He started off my praising Hamilton for his pole position lap and expressed how good it must have been to have a gap to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Verstappen.
“What a Qualifying session. It was an absolutely stunning lap from Lewis and an incredible performance in very challenging conditions. I don’t remember the last time somebody had a gap of 1.2 seconds to second place in Qualifying.“
The Austrian followed by commenting on how Bottas also performed in the session, which had challenging weather conditions. He explained that the team will be looking at why the Finn was unable to near the pace of Hamilton.
“For Valtteri, the sessions all went pretty well, and he was competing for the front row throughout Qualifying. But at the end, it didn’t come together so we need to analyse why, because it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of pace in him or the car.”
He started explaining how the team feel about the race, as he is hopeful for the team with their positions. Wolff finalised by giving compliments to George Russell and Esteban Ocon as both produced good results. With Russell getting out of the first qualifying session for the first time, while Ocon qualified an excellent fifth on the grid.
“Tomorrow looks set to be dry, so we’re excited to see what race day will bring,” said Wolff. “And congratulations to our juniors Esteban and George for two brilliant Qualifying performances today, proving wet sessions are where the drivers really come to the fore.“
Andrew Shovlin: “Well done to Lewis on a sensational pole lap!”
Andrew Sholvin, the Chief Race Engineer for Mercedes, gave praise to Hamilton regarding his pole lap, and expressed how tricky for all drivers as it had been in the first fully wet Qualifying session for almost two years. He talked about how the session did have easier parts to it, such as tyre choices.
“Well done to Lewis on a sensational pole lap! It was good to be able to get the session going, having missed the final practice session due to the rain,” said Shovlin.
“We’ve not had a wet Qualifying since Spa in 2018, so everyone had to get up to speed pretty quickly. However, as far as wet Qualifying sessions go, this one was straightforward as the tyre choice wasn’t difficult – it was clear we had a set of wet tyres for each session.“
Sholvin went on to speak about the start of qualifying and how the team performed as a whole as he conveyed positivity surrounding the start of the prolonged session. He then followed by pointing out how strategy did not play much part in the session due to the weather and how it affected the tyres.
“Both drivers did a good job of staying out of trouble in the early stages. We were just looking to keep up near the top of the timesheets and keep an eye on the weather, to push when the track looked to be quicker.
“The tyres were consistent throughout, times were going up and down a bit as the water levels changed, but there wasn’t really any degradation so we could stay out for the entire session. “
Sholvin communicated how he felt each individual driver had done. He revealed however that Bottas did have a slight problem with his car which meant he could not match the pace of his team-mate Hamilton. He followed on by mentioning how well Hamilton had performed and how good it was to see the Brit continually perform.
“Valtteri’s session had started very well but he ended up with a bit of glazing on his front-right brake disc, which made life difficult for him on braking and getting heat into the tyres – and ultimately cost him.
“Lewis had an extremely strong final session. The conditions were worse than at any time in Qualifying, but he just kept putting in purple laps and the final lap was simply amazing. Our focus is now on the race, which looks dry – for now.
“The wet Qualifying has given us a free tyre choice on the grid so now that we know where everyone will line up, we can run simulations to understand the various opportunities that are presented by starting on Soft or Medium tyres. We also resisted the temptation to tune the car for the wet today, so hopefully we will have good pace tomorrow and can leave here with another good result.“