After not having the quickest car, it was a surprise for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team to take pole position especially on a track where overtaking is very difficult meaning that it’s even more crucial. Ahead of the Grand Prix it will be difficult for Lewis Hamilton to retain that pole position with both Red Bull’s behind him meaning that they can mix up the strategy whilst Mercedes cannot unless Valtteri Bottas gets further up the field.
Toto Wolff – Team Principal of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team was surprised to achieve a pole position as Mercedes do not currently have the best package, Max Verstappen made a mistake on his final run and if he hadn’t he would’ve been on pole. The time gap compared to last year is huge, being six tenths ahead in 2020 and now two tenths behind in 2021.
“The pole was a surprise because at the moment we do not have the quickest car. It was so close and Max, without the mistake, would have been on pole. But the loss compared to last year is just enormous – we were six tenths ahead and now we are two tenths behind.”
All of the team need to work hard to maximise everything they can out of the performance of the car and they have already done a lot of that work with the car being quicker than it is in Bahrain. Mercedes had some concerns with the rear of the car but Wolff feels like they are getting there.
“So, we need to scratch our heads and just try to find the performance. It’s a quicker car than in Bahrain, I think we have got the car in a better balance window, that’s the main reason for the improvement. We had some drivability concerns in Bahrain and we are sorting that out – slowly we are getting there.”
Red Bull Racing Honda have a big advantage going into the Grand Prix tomorrow with Verstappen starting on mediums and Sergio Pérez on softs they can both mix up the strategies and put both cars under pressure. Wolff believes in Bottas’s ability to make his way through those ahead of him but for know Wolff feels that they are at a disadvantage, despite being on Pole Position.
“It’s a big advantage for them because not only two Red Bulls behind but Perez is starting on softs so they can do two different strategies. Valtteri has to make his way through the soft runners, which he will and can, but I think we are a little bit on the backfoot.”
“We’re expecting another close fight tomorrow” – Andrew Shovlin
Qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was a day full of mixed emotions for Mercedes, with Hamilton taking pole position and Bottas only managing to qualify in eighth position.
Andrew Shovlin – Trackside Engineering Director at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, congratulates Lewis Hamilton on his 99th pole position in Formula 1. The British driver had a hard job to take pole, but drove really well throughout the session despite having issues with the temperature of the tyres meaning that there is a lack of grip when the drivers do their laps.
“Congratulations to Lewis on his 99th pole position. He certainly had to work hard for this one but drove really well through the session. It’s not been an easy day by any measure. We were struggling to get enough temperature for a single lap and if you start with the tyres on the cold side, the grip just isn’t there and you spend most of the lap sliding around.”
Shovlin and the team have some work to do to understand the issue with Bottas’s car that made him qualify down in eighth, the Finnish driver looked very strong in the first session of Qualifying but after that couldn’t get near that time in the other two sessions. For the Grand Prix, Shovlin expects it to be another tight fight, but at least both of their cars are on the medium tyre unlike the Red Bull’s which allows for a bit more flexibility around pit stops, hopefully Hamilton has got a good enough package to win the Grand Prix tomorrow or at least fight for the win.
“We’ve got a bit of analysis to do to understand Valtteri’s issue. He was looking very strong in Q1 but set his best time on the third lap and couldn’t repeat that time for the rest of the session. We’re expecting another close fight tomorrow, we’ve at least got both cars on the medium tyre which should give us flexibility around stop laps and hopefully we’ve got a car that’s fast enough to fight for the win.”