Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team breathed their biggest ever sigh of relief, as Lewis Hamilton took second place in Azerbaijan qualifying in chaotic circumstances.
Mercedes have been well off the pace all weekend, yet somehow will start on the front row with Hamilton, who put in a lap few thought was possible. Four red flags during qualifying including one in the final session, saw the drivers first flying lap in qualifying three determine the grid for Sunday’s race.
Hamilton is thrilled with the result and is slightly more optimistic heading into the race, the team have looked much closer to the front on race runs than they had on one lap pace, is victory back on the cards for Hamilton this weekend?
“Given the difficult circumstances, I’m just overwhelmed and really happy to get that lap in. We definitely weren’t expecting that, and this is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. We kept our composure and continued to have difficult conversations in the background, challenging one another and just never taking “no” for an answer.”
“Today was the biggest jump we’ve been able to make between FP3 and Qualifying. We discovered something at the end of FP3 and we continued to push in that direction. It’s been so difficult and there was so much work back at the factory overnight and today – I hope everyone’s happy but we’ve still got a job to do tomorrow.”
“Our race pace is a lot better than our single lap pace, we’re miles off on a single lap and a lot closer in race pace. We don’t understand why, but I’d like to think we can take the fight to the other teams tomorrow.”
“I’m on the limit but so far off the pace” – Bottas
For Valtteri Bottas it has been the weekend from hell and qualifying was no different, the Finnish driver will start from tenth place in Sunday’s race. There is still some hope for Bottas though as he knows all too well just how crazy the Azerbaijan Grand Prix can be, he will be hoping for hell to break loose on Sunday!
“My pace has been suffering all weekend and I feel like ultimately, something is wrong because I’m on the limit but so far off the pace – if I push harder, I’m in the wall. We alternate and this weekend was Lewis’ choice to decide who goes first out the garage so obviously in the first run on Q3 he had my tow and in the second run I tried to get tow from Charles but there was the red flag which stopped my flying lap.”
“Tomorrow will be a challenge but I know anything can happen in this race – I’ve been here before one lap down and finished back at the front. So you never know and for sure, we’ll keep trying and I’ll just try to understand everything I can tonight and fight tomorrow.”