Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team CEO and Team Principal Toto Wolff knows that today was a difficult qualifying session for the team, despite the cars being placed in first and third.
He is impressed with his drivers though, especially how Lewis Hamilton performed after a stressful red-flag in Q2 causing Hamilton to nearly miss out on a flying lap by one second.
Wolff said: “Sometimes, it’s the tracks where we perform well in practice, that prove to be the most difficult in Qualifying and the race. That happened today, with a very challenging Qualifying session. We had a very strong care, but almost stumbled over a red flag. I think we had the racing gods on our side, that we were able to make it into Q3.
“It’s always impressive how Lewis manages to put it all together, even if adversity is being thrown at him. He did a fantastic job to secure pole position. On Valtteri’s side, we need to investigate what happened, because he had a very strong Friday, but FP3 went against him. The changes he’d made to the car for Qualifying seemed to be right, but then he lost some performance in Q3.
“The gap doesn’t do him justice, so we need to look into what happened. But we’re looking forward to an exciting race, with both drivers starting on different tyre compounds and a long run to Turn 2. Let’s see how it all plays out.”
Chief Race Engineer Andrew Shovlin is a little bit disappointed that the team ultimately had to use softs to get in a good pole time. That does mean that Hamilton will start tomorrow on the red-striped tyres instead of the preferred mediums.
“We had the pace today to get the cars on the front row with both starting on Medium tyres so it’s a bit disappointing to have Lewis starting the race on Soft and Valtteri in third. The wind changed going into Qualifying and it was quite gusty which made it more difficult to put the laps together.” Said Shovlin.
“The first session wasn’t the cleanest for us, but both cars got through ok. The second session was really where things started to get complicated. Valtteri did a decent first lap on the Medium, but the track was improving quickly, and we had to take a second set to make sure we covered further track evolution. Lewis did a very quick first lap, but ran a bit wide at the final corner so his time was deleted. We didn’t have enough fuel in the car to do another lap, so had no choice but to box.
“We sent Lewis early on another Medium tyre and he was on a good lap going into the penultimate corner when the red flag came out for Sebastien’s crash, which was simply unfortunate timing. The focus then shifted to just making sure we got Lewis through to Q3: We knew the outlap would be a mess given that there was only two minutes and 15 seconds on the clock, but he was just able to cross the line before the flag and despite traffic, managed to get a lap together.
“Q3 was a bit more straight forward although Valtteri struggled to get the tyres in the right window and unfortunately got pipped by Max on the final run. Lewis did a couple of really impressive laps, but rather than celebrating another pole position, I think he’ll be thinking that he’d happily swap it for a Medium tyre of the line tomorrow. So, it wasn’t the perfect preparation for tomorrow, but we’ve still got a chance for either of our cars to win and it should make the race very exciting.”