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Styrian GP: Qualifying team notes - Mercedes

NEWS STORY
11/07/2020

Lewis secured the 89th pole position of his Formula One career - his first of the 2020 season and third at the Red Bull Ring. Valtteri set the fourth fastest time in Q3 to secure a spot on the second row of the grid.

Wet weather throughout Saturday in Spielberg caused FP3 to be cancelled and the start of Qualifying to be delayed by almost an hour.

Lewis Hamilton: I'm grateful that we got to do Qualifying - I love these days. The weather was incredibly difficult and challenging out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can't see where you are going. I had a big aquaplaning moment on my penultimate lap, so I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the final lap, nice and clean. After yesterday, the team did a great job looking into what was causing the problem and I felt confident going into today that it wouldn't be an issue even if it had been dry. Pole position is where I want to be starting the race from so I'm glad it was a trouble-free session; I didn't make any mistakes. That's always a positive and now I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Valtteri Bottas: It was not easy out there and I wasn't aiming to be anything but P1 today. But obviously tricky conditions can bring different challenges. For me, I don't think I managed to build enough temperature in the tyres and also my front-right brake was glazing throughout Qualifying, so there was a split in temperatures across the front axle. That meant I couldn't really maximise the potential of the car under braking, which is important for confidence in the wet. It made for a tricky session and I'm disappointed with P4. But the second row is still within attacking range and tomorrow is a new day. We know how strong the car is in the race, so I'm looking forward to it.

Toto Wolff: What a Qualifying session. It was an absolutely stunning lap from Lewis and an incredible performance in very challenging conditions. I don't remember the last time somebody had a gap of 1.2 seconds to second place in Qualifying. For Valtteri, the sessions all went pretty well, and he was competing for the front row throughout Qualifying. But at the end, it didn't come together so we need to analyse why, because it certainly wasn't due to a lack of pace in him or the car. Tomorrow looks set to be dry, so we're excited to see what race day will bring. And congratulations to our juniors Esteban and George for two brilliant Qualifying performances today, proving wet sessions are where the drivers really come to the fore.

Andrew Shovlin: Well done to Lewis on a sensational pole lap! It was good to be able to get the session going, having missed the final practice session due to the rain. We've not had a wet Qualifying since Spa in 2018, so everyone had to get up to speed pretty quickly. However, as far as wet Qualifying sessions go, this one was straightforward as the tyre choice wasn't difficult - it was clear we had a set of wet tyres for each session. Both drivers did a good job of staying out of trouble in the early stages. We were just looking to keep up near the top of the timesheets and keep an eye on the weather, to push when the track looked to be quicker. The tyres were consistent throughout, times were going up and down a bit as the water levels changed, but there wasn't really any degradation so we could stay out for the entire session. Valtteri's session had started very well but he ended up with a bit of glazing on his front-right brake disc, which made life difficult for him on braking and getting heat into the tyres - and ultimately cost him. Lewis had an extremely strong final session. The conditions were worse than at any time in Qualifying, but he just kept putting in purple laps and the final lap was simply amazing. Our focus is now on the race, which looks dry - for now. The wet Qualifying has given us a free tyre choice on the grid so now that we know where everyone will line up, we can run simulations to understand the various opportunities that are presented by starting on Soft or Medium tyres. We also resisted the temptation to tune the car for the wet today, so hopefully we will have good pace tomorrow and can leave here with another good result.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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