Russian GP: Qualifying team notes - Mercedes


Lewis claimed a spot on the front row in Qualifying and will start the race in Sochi in P2. Valtteri qualified fifth, but will start tomorrow's race from P4 owing to a grid penalty for Max Verstappen. Both drivers will start the Russian Grand Prix on the Medium tyres.

Lewis Hamilton: It feels like a really positive weekend so far and I'm very happy with the job that we've done collectively. We've worked so hard until late last night and again today and it all came together in the end. The ultimate goal is always to get as close to 100 percent as possible and I don't think there was much left in the car today. Sochi has always been a track that I struggled at, but today every lap was just getting better and better, there were no real mistakes and particularly the last lap felt good. The Ferraris have some crazy speeds on the straights, so to split them is a very good scenario for us. Now we have to try and convert that split into something even better. It's a long run into Turn 1, so it's not always the best for a start on the harder tyre, but we've got to try something and it's good that we're able to go for a different strategy tomorrow. The team has done a really good job to put us in that position and I look forward to the fight.

Valtteri Bottas: It was tricky qualifying for me today. I was struggling in the last sector, particularly in Turn 13 where I had rear snaps mid-corner in pretty much every qualifying lap. Those snaps made the rear tyres overheat which made the rest of Sector 3 really tricky and I didn't really find a way to drive around the issue. In my second run in Q3, the snap was pretty big and I lost multiple tenths there, so I aborted the final lap. The Ferraris are quite a bit faster than us on the straights, our race pace looked decent yesterday and we're starting on a different tyre to everyone around us, so we can hopefully create some opportunities. It's still all to play for.

Toto Wolff: We extracted everything from our package today, so I'm really happy with our performance, but we're losing seven or eight tenths to the Ferraris on the straights and there's only so much you can do against that. We have a big challenge on our hands, but we will give it everything to try and take the fight to them. Lewis put in a very strong lap and did a great job to claim P2 and split the Ferraris. It's a shame for Valtteri because he was on a good lap too before he aborted. Tomorrow, we'll be on a harder tyre to everyone around us which will make the start a little bit tricky but will hopefully create some opportunities later in the race.

James Allison: Mixed feelings after today. On one level we're really pleased with us having made a solid recovery from the day yesterday, with both our drivers now being able to put in their first laps pretty consistently. At the same time, we're sad that we didn't have the pace to beat Leclerc today, but congratulations to him for a very good series of laps. Looking ahead to tomorrow, with the Medium tyre, offset against everyone else starting on the Soft, it's going to be a very interesting race and hopefully some of the good race pace we saw on Friday will allow us to take the fight to the Ferraris.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Sochi, here.

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Published: 28/09/2019
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