Team Principal at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Toto Wolff, is expecting a very tough but exciting Styrian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton starting second and Valtteri Bottas in fifth.
Yet again it will be Hamilton alongside Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid, the world champion is looking to claw some points back on the Red Bull Racing driver on Sunday, in a bid to halt the Dutchman’s momentum.
Mercedes have tended to have a quicker car on race day compared to qualifying this season, Wolff is hoping that this will mean both Silver Arrows will be able to take the fight to Verstappen where rain might play a key role.
“Overall, I think our qualifying result was probably a bit better than we expected after practice. Valtteri made a strong recovery from a tricky Friday and did a good job of damage limitation for his penalty – he will start P5 tomorrow and has a good opportunity running the Medium tyre in the opening stint. On his side, Lewis had strong runs and looking at the data, it’s not clear where he’d have been able to eke out any more time this afternoon.
“We ran a slightly unusual session, with Valtteri doing three runs in Q2, while Lewis did the same on the Soft tyres in Q3. That allowed us to squeeze everything out of the car and control the pace of our out laps in the best way to manage the tyres for our car. Both drivers will be starting on Medium tomorrow and we have generally raced stronger than we have qualified this season.
“I think we have a quick race car and a few different options on the strategy. It’s going to be an exciting afternoon of tough racing – and the weather might play a part, too. I’m looking forward to it!”
“We’ve got a good opportunity tomorrow” – Andrew Shovlin
Mercedes Track Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin has the same thoughts ahead of the race on Sunday as Wolff, Shovlin is predicting a very exciting race where the weather looks almost certain to play a key factor.
Shovlin also believes that the team have a mix of strategies at their disposal, the team will be desperate for what happened in France last weekend to never happen again!
“It felt like pole was just out of our reach today but the drivers did a good job and we ran the session well so we can’t be too disappointed. Valtteri recovered from a difficult afternoon yesterday and did a good job to get second. It’s a shame that he’s got the three-place penalty but he did everything possible to put him in a strong position for the race tomorrow and has a lot of opportunities being surrounded by soft runners.
“Lewis has had an interesting weekend exploring new setup directions which has ultimately benefited both drivers. No doubt he’ll have felt there was a little pace in there but we’ve got a good opportunity tomorrow from the front row and a car that was working well on the long run on Friday. It should be an interesting race with a few different strategies and that’s even before we factor in the weather which could be quite exciting.”