Formula 1

Mercedes lock out front row, but Hamilton acknowledges “We’ve got a big race still to come”

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Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport / LAT Images

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport have secured a front row lock out for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. It marks Briton Lewis Hamilton‘s 93rd pole position, and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas‘ first front row start at the circuit.

Hamilton ran a mere six laps during the final stage of Qualifying, his pole lap being a 1:41.252. Bottas also ran six laps, and secured second place with a 1:41.763.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be able to take pole on a day like this. I woke up this morning to the terrible news about Chadwick Boseman. What a humble man he was, portraying these iconic black figures. As a kid I wanted to be Superman, and it’s so important today for young black people to have a superhero to look up to, who looks just like them,” said Hamilton.

He added that although he has a lot of experience and has completed a lot of laps over the course of his time in Formula 1, very few have been perfect, but he said his performance today felt as though he was close to it.

“It’s really not easy to perform at your best when you have something weighing on your heart, and to be truthful it was so difficult to shake off that negativity and channel it into something exceptional, but Chadwick showed that was possible. I’ve done a lot of laps in my F1 career, but those two laps in Qualifying 3 were almost perfect.”

He went on: “You can’t see my face under my helmet out there, but I was smiling, this track is just incredible and I was totally on the limit. We decided to go out early and run in the clean air as it’s so easy to make a mess of the tow if you get blocked or there’s a yellow flag and we definitely made the right call.

“We’ve got a big race still to come tomorrow and the Red Bulls looked good on the long-runs on Friday, but today it was an honour to be able to dedicate that pole to Chadwick because he inspired me. My prayers and thoughts are with his family.”

“I’m actually not too bothered about missing pole” – Bottas

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport / LAT Images

Valtteri Bottas was not disappointed at missing out on pole to his team-mate, as he pointed out starting further back on the grid can be an advantage.

“I’m quite happy with Qualifying, my lap felt good today, especially the second run in Qualifying 3. I don’t think I made any mistakes in that run, so I’m not sure where the delta to Lewis came from, I’ll have to look at the data. But I’m actually not too bothered about missing pole, as starting second or third can be an advantage in Spa.

“We’ve seen it before that with a tow on the first lap you can overtake the leader going into Turn 5. I hope there’s plenty of opportunity tomorrow to try and fight for a good result and I’m looking forward to an exciting race.

“It was challenging to find the right set-up” – Wolff

Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Team principal Toto Wolff said it was a challenge to find the right set-up for the car in the Free Practice sessions.

“It’s always good to qualify on the first row in Spa, which is a real drivers’ circuit. We didn’t really have a super smooth weekend so far; it was challenging to find the right set-up in Free Practice sessions, particularly in the low-speed corners. We still saw that pattern to a small degree in Qualifying, but much less so than before.”

He added that he feels the strong pace shown by some of the other teams and drivers should mix things up a bit in the race.

“I’m really interested to see how the race is going to pan out tomorrow, especially the first laps should be exciting. Riccardo has shown tremendous straight-line speed today, so he will be strong in the run up to Turn 5 tomorrow. Verstappen was very strong in the long runs yesterday, so I’m sure he will be in the fight as well. I’m looking forward to an exciting race – new game, new chance.”

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