Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff, hailed the work done back at the Mercedes factories as “fantastic” after Lewis Hamilton defied the odds to qualify second for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The team have been lost all weekend so far and the furthest off the pace they have been in recent years, yet somehow the world champion will line up from second position. Valtteri Bottas couldn’t manage to get anywhere close to Hamilton and will start the race from tenth, as four red flags cause chaos in qualifying.
The teams race pace appears to be much closer to the front than their one lap pace, meaning that all is to play for in the race. Wolff emphasised just how amazing a job the factory have done and that the team have a shot tomorrow.
“The job that has been done back in Brackley and Brixworth, and from the engineers here, is fantastic – they designed an incredible programme which we went through line-by-line. We made a series of experiments – some were useful, others not but we were able to gain answers to our questions and then produce a car that was good.”
“Yesterday our long runs looked good and we were on a similar pace to the Red Bulls so I think we have a decent shot at a good result tomorrow.”
“Anything can happen” – Shovlin
Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin is amazed the team have a car on the front row, at a circuit where unpredictability tends to be the theme of the race, with numerous safety cars a real possibility.
“We didn’t really expect to have a car on the front row going into the session but Lewis made the most of what he had and was able to put in pretty impressive laps throughout. He’d managed to get a better feel for the front end in the morning session and managed to build on that in qualifying which was encouraging.”
“Valtteri has had a tough weekend from the word go. We need to pick through his car to try and understand where the issue is as he’s just not got the grip that Lewis has had, regardless of where we have put the setup.”
“The race should be interesting tomorrow; we had a reasonable long run on Friday and the race is as much about pace and degradation as it is track position. It’s also one where anything can happen with a high probability of safety cars and red flags but hopefully we can move forward with both drivers.”