When the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team turned up to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, they didn’t know their pace compared to the Red Bull Racing Honda who still look like the quickest car, so to come away from qualifying with a pole position is a great result as once again Lewis Hamilton showed his quality – taking his 99th Pole Position in Formula 1.
Hamilton had another great day in the car, initially the British driver didn’t expect to be ahead of the Red Bulls as they have been so fast all weekend, at some points even being six tenths faster than anyone else. The car has been feeling a lot better than it did in Bahrain and Hamilton acknowledges all of those back at the factory who have worked hard to bridge the gap over the three week break between the Bahrain Grand Prix and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“Today has been great, obviously. I definitely didn’t expect us to be ahead of the two Red Bulls. I think they’ve been so quick this weekend. There were times when they were six tenths ahead. We didn’t really know where they would be, but the car was already feeling a lot better from the beginning of this weekend, so you know, mad respect to the Team for the hard work to really narrow down the window.”
Imola is a track full of lots of medium and high speed corners which suits the Mercedes quite well, on top of this the temperature is lower and after struggling in the high desert temperatures in Sakhir this also allows the team to get closer to Red Bull. The Red Bull’s are incredibly strong so to qualify ahead of them requires a near-perfect lap and this will be needed for Hamilton if he is to fend off both the Red Bulls in the Grand Prix itself.
“This track is all medium and high speed corners, so I think that’s why we’ve closed the gap. Temperatures are much lower which has brought us closer to the Red Bulls. But they are so strong – it’s going to take absolutely perfect laps to stay ahead of them if we are going to have a chance of the win tomorrow.”
“Not what I was aiming for today, especially with the feeling I had at the start of qualifying” – Valtteri Bottas
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying will not be a day that Valtteri Bottas looks back fondly on, qualifying in 8th – behind both Red Bull’s, Pierre Gasly, both McLaren F1 Team car’s, Charles Leclerc and Hamilton.
Bottas found the day a bit confusing, with the car behaving oddly in Qualifying-3 having oversteer on his first run and then losing the rear of the car multiple times on his second run. After having such a good feeling in the car at the start of qualifying this was not was the Finnish driver was aiming for at the start of the session.
“Today was a little bit confusing and I don’t understand the Q3 performance yet. On the first run of Q3 I had oversteer and then the second run, the rear end was not so good. Not what I was aiming for today, especially with the feeling I had at the start of qualifying.”
Bottas feels that him and the team need to work on the rear of the car, complaining about the rear in Bahrain and again now at Imola with the Finnish driver not being able to trust the rear end and thus losing confidence. Even though overtaking may be difficult at a track like Imola, Bottas will give it his all in the Grand Prix to make up as many positions as possible.
“Q3 first run, I went into turn two and had a really sudden snap from the rear end and I lost a lot of time. The same in run two, I couldn’t trust the rear end. That isn’t something I felt in Q1 or Q2 so it’s difficult to understand – we will have to investigate. Overtaking here is difficult with a narrow track but I will fight to give it everything tomorrow.”