Toto Wolff felt the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team did not translate the form they showed in final practice on Saturday morning into the kind of result they were hoping for in Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was only able to qualify fourth, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas fifth as Max Verstappen swept to a third consecutive pole position. Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez also managed to get between the pole sitting Red Bull Racing driver and the two Mercedes drivers.
Wolff, the Team Principal and CEO at Mercedes, says there is a need to continue improving the car after ending three-tenths behind Verstappen in Q3, but the team feel they will be in a better position when it comes to race pace on Sunday.
“What started as a good day in FP3 we couldn’t translate into a good qualifying session,” said Wolff. “The gaps here are very small and our performance in qualifying wasn’t great, and that showed in the final result.
“We need to analyse whether a slip-stream could have helped us but overall, we just need to continue to develop the performance of the car.
“Hopefully tomorrow we will be in better shape for the race and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.”
“We obviously hoped for much better than fourth and fifth” – Andrew Shovlin
Andrew Shovlin, the Track Engineering Director at Mercedes, admitted the team were hoping for a better outcome in Qualifying than fourth and fifth, but he knows that this is the price they will pay if they do not get everything right.
The hotter conditions seen at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday appeared to hinder Mercedes, and when other teams were finding time in Q3, Shovlin says they were not able to do the same, which left them on the second and third rows respectively.
“We obviously hoped for much better than fourth and fifth, but we’ve been struggling a bit all day and with such a short lap and small gaps, you pay the price when you don’t get things right,” said Shovlin.
“The hotter track today doesn’t seem to suit us and we need to question whether we were getting the soft tyre in the right window. Most cars in the final session were able to find a tenth or two but we didn’t really pick anything up and slipped further down as a result.”
Shovlin says they will be looking to get the best possible result in Sunday’s race, and with options on strategy at their disposal, they are aiming at taking the fight to Red Bull and gunning for victory.
“So, lots to work on but now we need to focus on making the most of the opportunities tomorrow,” he said. “We at least managed to get both cars onto the medium tyre for the start and hopefully we can show good race pace and get ourselves back into the fight at the front.”