Russian GP: Qualifying team notes - Mercedes


Lewis qualifies P4 and Valtteri P7 for the Russian Grand Prix despite showing strong pace and dominating Q1 and Q2 on the Inter tyres on a very damp track.

With conditions improving into Q3, the two Mercedes led the field out on Inters and again set the fastest times, before the cars behind made the switch to slicks.

Given their track position, Lewis and Valtteri were the last to switch to the Softs and only had time for one timed lap, in contrast to the cars ahead who had time for at least two and improved with each lap as tyre temperatures rose.

With the Soft tyre only coming alive on a second timed lap, neither Mercedes driver improved on their Inter times will have a battle on their hands in Sunday's Grand Prix which is expected to be dry.

Lewis Hamilton: I made a mistake in the pit lane and I'm incredibly disappointed with that. Up until then, I was in the groove, I was in the zone and I am really sorry for all the team that are here and back at the factory because obviously that's not what you expect from a champion. It is what it is, and I'll do my best tomorrow to try and rectify it. At the end, it was so slippery when you don't have any temperature and without the time for that second push lap, we couldn't set the time of the guys ahead.

Those cars up front have got good pace and it definitely won't be easy tomorrow. I'm just going to say my prayers and hope that our car can be fixed to be OK for tomorrow. These things are sent to try us, and as much as I feel terrible right now, I'll turn it into a positive and try to do the best we can. But we've got a Brit on pole which is great, so congrats to Lando.

Valtteri Bottas: Q1 and Q2 were going well, we seemed to be strong in the Inter conditions but in the end when it started to dry, we came in and obviously we were hopeful to get two timed laps. In the end, we only got one and couldn't get the tyres to work in one lap, it was too difficult to get the temperature into them. All the cars ahead of us got at least two laps and that was the issue. It's not great but nowhere near over yet, we have a strong car and I've had strong pace all weekend. At least I'm not starting from the back like in Monza so hopefully we'll be better and I can push on from P7.

Toto Wolff: There are situations like today that are just really unfortunate. You can't point to a mistake today - we were the first cars out in the session and found ourselves in a sequence where either we would have aborted our last two runs on the Intermediate tyre to get two Soft runs in or play it safe by finishing the lap, which is what we did. If you could turn back time, you'd maybe not go out first and wait a minute later but then you're into crystal ball reading.

Even without Lewis' kiss on the wall we wouldn't have been able to do two laps on the Soft and it was definitely a lap two tyre today. With the second lap, I'm sure we would have been fast enough for the front row but with one lap, you have no chance of heating the tyre enough. Now we need to turn it around tomorrow, these things sometimes go against you but the important thing is how you react. Lewis is still in the hunt for the win, that's the target and Valtteri can go on the attack from P7, he's looked very strong all weekend.

Andrew Shovlin: A frustrating end to a qualifying session where we'd been looking very strong throughout. The conditions were quite unusual in that was taking a long time to transition to dry. The intermediate was holding on well and not degrading and our plan in the final session was to set a time on the intermediates before swapping to dry tyres. Unfortunately, a single lap on the dry tyres wasn't enough to get it working so we got jumped by a number of cars at the finish. It was encouraging to see the car working well in the wet but we've left ourselves with more work to do tomorrow than we hoped. However, our pace on Friday was strong so anything is possible.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Sochi, here.

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Published: 25/09/2021
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