Toto Wolff says it is ‘satisfying’ to see the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team lock out the front row of the grid for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, with Valtteri Bottas securing his thirteenth career pole position ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes and the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says both drivers are hungry to take the win on Sunday, but it will be the Finn who has the advantage at the start over the Briton.
“This is a very satisfying result, taking P1 and P2 with our drivers today,” said Wolff. “Valtteri did a great job to beat Lewis at his home track and it’ll be exciting to see how the race pans out tomorrow.
“Both our drivers are hungry and will fight hard for the win. It was good to see that we maintained our pace advantage even in these hotter conditions and it will be important for us to keep that advantage tomorrow as well.”
Wolff admits seeing Max Verstappen of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing starting the race on the hardest compound of Pirelli tyre makes for an interesting strategic race, but he expects those who are ‘clever’ with their tyres on Sunday to have an advantage.
“The 70th anniversary Grand Prix promises to be an interesting race with a number of strategy options; we’ll be starting on the mediums with Max in the row behind starting on the hard tyres and running an alternative strategy,” said Wolff.
“Ultimately, tomorrow’s race will not only be dictated by who can go fastest, but also who is most clever with their tyres.”
“Our first laps in qualifying weren’t too impressive” – Andrew Shovlin
Andrew Shovlin, the Trackside Engineering Director at Mercedes, said the conditions at Silverstone were difficult to adapt to during Qualifying as the wind direction changed, but once they got on top of it, they were able to lock out the front row.
Shovlin admitted the first laps in Qualifying were not as strong as they had hoped, but overall, they were able to easily advance into the top ten shootout on the medium Pirelli compound with both Bottas and Hamilton.
“Well done to Valtteri on another pole position!” said Shovlin. “The wind has made things a bit tricky for everyone today and made the track slower overall compared to yesterday, which took a bit of adapting to in the final practice this morning.
“We focused on the soft tyre there and seemed to have good grip and balance on new tyres, so the changes on the car going into qualifying were fairly small. Our first laps in qualifying weren’t too impressive, it seemed that the track wasn’t in great shape and the wind had changed from the morning, which took a bit of getting used to.
“We ran again right at the end of the first session on the same used set and the pace then looked decent. From there on in it was fairly straight forward.”
Shovlin revealed that the team wanted both Bottas and Hamilton to start on the medium compound of tyre even if others behind them gambled on the hard compound.
Ultimately, it was only Verstappen who went the other way, so Mercedes got their wish, and Shovlin is looking forward to what is expected to be a very strategic kind of race.
“We had wanted to start both cars on the medium tyre and had discussed this morning that we’d not move away from that even if we saw others on the hard in Q2,” he added. “By the final session it was clear that both drivers were relatively evenly matched on pace; Valtteri seemed a little happier with the medium tyre, Lewis was perhaps a little better on the soft.
“On the final run they were never much more than a few hundredths apart, Valtteri had a better exit from turn 7 and held onto that gain for the remainder of the lap to take pole.
“We’re looking forward to the race tomorrow, the softer compounds will create more strategy options and it’s always an exciting race here where anything can happen.”