Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport lock out the front row for the 1000th Grand Prix.
It feels good to be on pole. I think it’s going to be a very close race tomorrow, so it’s a good thing to start from the front. It’s been a strong weekend for us so far and it was nice to continue that way in the first session that counted. Because in the end when you go into Qualifying it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a good weekend up to that point; the only thing that counts is if you can deliver a good lap. I’m happy I was able to do that today. I think we were still a little bit behind on the straights compared to Ferrari, but we were stronger in the corners and ultimately gained more than we lost to them on the straights. It will be a tight race tomorrow and we will need a strong race pace and the right strategy to win. I’ll also need a good start in order to keep the lead as I’m sure both Lewis and the Ferraris will be pushing. We’ve been strong all weekend long so we need to continue to perform at this level to get the job done tomorrow.
Fantastic job from the team, I’m really happy for us to lock out the front row. Valtteri did a great job, he was a bit quicker but I was happy to get a decent couple of laps. I didn’t know where we would be, but in the end we’ve shown a strong performance. I’ve struggled a lot this weekend up until Qualifying, I was battling with the balance, so I’m really happy with the direction it went for Qualifying; it was a bit late, but better late than never. I’ll try and pull a good start out tomorrow; tyre management and strategy will also be important. This is not a bad track to overtake, so it should be an interesting race. I’m sure there will be a few opportunities tomorrow and I will try to put myself in the best position to be able to fight.
It’s great to see both our cars on the front row for the 1000th Grand Prix. The Ferraris squeezed it all out and were very fast again on the straights, but we were quicker in the corners and that was ultimately how we stayed ahead today. Our car looks really good in terms of downforce level, but we need to improve our straight-line speed. It is always a combination of power and drag, so we need to leave no stone unturned on the chassis and the power unit to recover a little bit. Valtteri was strong all weekend long and put in some good laps in Qualifying. Lewis was struggling with the grip before the session and was a few tenths behind this morning, but he did a very good job recovering in the session that mattered. We’re seeing massive swings from weekend to weekend, even within one team, and it makes this season really interesting. Valtteri was in a class of his own in Melbourne, he struggled in Bahrain, but then he has come back here. For Lewis it was the other way around; he had some issues in the race in Australia, but was really strong in Bahrain. If you look at Leclerc and Vettel it’s very similar. It makes racing unpredictable and I’m sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow as well. Our long run pace looked decent yesterday, but we expect a close battle between Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves so we need to keep pushing.
A great job by the team and both drivers to get the front row and congratulations to Valtteri on another pole position. During the morning session we ran both Soft and Medium compounds as we wanted to try both ahead of qualifying to see how realistic it would be to progress through Q2 on the Medium. The wind was also a bit stronger and blowing in a different direction to Friday, so there was a bit of learning to do with the drivers to understand how the balance had changed. Valtteri came out of FP3 pretty happy with this car, Lewis on the other hand was struggling to get the grip out of the Soft tyres on a single lap. Qualifying is always a busy session but there is more pressure this year as the midfield are much closer. Lewis took a bit of time to find the peak of the grip on the tyres but by his second run in Q2 he was looking very competitive and it was extremely close between our drivers in the final part. While it’s nice to start on the front row, we expect this race to be one where the fastest car will win – and with Ferrari and Verstappen starting on the same tyres, we’re under no illusions that tomorrow will be anything other than difficult. However, it’s shaping up to be an exciting battle between all three teams so hopefully the 1000th race will be one to remember.