After locking out the front row for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has admitted that his outfit was in a league of its own in the qualifying session.
1.022 second! That was the margin between the lap time with which Lewis Hamilton secured the pole position for his home grand prix and the best lap time set by Mercedes’ nearest rival Max Verstappen. Following its sweeping start to the coronavirus-delayed 2020 season, Mercedes increased its advantage over its rivals by a further step at Silverstone.
The first four race weekends of the 2020 season indicated that Mercedes could not only wrap up their seventh Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship on the trot, but they also might win every single race of the season given their pace advantage. With the current cars set to be carried over for 2021, the Anglo-German outfit may continue to dominate until at least the end of next year.
Speaking after today’s qualifying session, Wolff has acknowledged that his team is on a different level to the rest of the field. "We can be very satisfied with our qualifying session today although I guess we're not making many new friends out there. Our car was working very well today, it was really in a league of its own and the performance shows all the smart work that has gone into it at the factories just down the road from here.
„Both Lewis and Valtteri really delivered today as well and were able to extract everything out of the car. We can be really happy the result today, but we know that the points are scored tomorrow, and our competitors will put up a hard fight. We're determined to give it everything and carry our momentum into the race to hopefully put on a good show for everyone supporting from home,” Wolff added.
Lewis Hamilton said that he did not feel comfortable in his W11 after the team made tweaks to the setup based on the experiences gained in the third practice session.
"This feeling never gets old, that's for sure! We made some changes to the car going into qualifying and it felt worse, so it was a real struggle out there in the first two sessions. At this track, there can be a headwind, tailwind and crosswind all at different parts of the circuit, so it's like juggling balls whilst you are on a moving plate.
Hamilton made a mistake in the middle part of the qualifying session, losing the control over the rear end of his car and spinning into the gravel trap. Despite Mercedes’ untouchable form, the Briton said he had to fight really hard for the pole position.
„Qualifying is a lot about building confidence and after that spin in Q2, I had to take some deep breaths, compose myself and mentally reset - especially knowing Valtteri was putting in fast lap after fast lap. Q3 started off well, the first lap was nice and clean, but the second one was even better.
„A big thank you to everyone at the team, working at the track and at the factories not far from here, for all their tireless work and continuing to push us forward. I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's going to be strange racing out there tomorrow without any fans, we definitely miss them and it's just a completely different energy. I know they'll be watching from home and supporting us, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them."
Valtteri Bottas had to play once again second fiddle in qualifying despite his promising pace in the first two qualifying sessions. The Finn put in a relentless effort in Q2 to set a new track record on Pirelli’s medium compound only to lost out to his team-mate in the all-important last qualifying segment.
"It's disappointing to be second but the reality is that Lewis found more time in Q3, I just couldn't quite catch him. He did a really good job today and deserves to be on pole. It was a pretty smooth session and I had some clean laps in Q1 and Q2 - the car felt pretty good out there.
„But I had a harder time in Q3 as I struggled to attack the slow-speed corners and the rear end was drifting more than before. But tomorrow is what counts and I think my long-run performance has been really good this weekend. I believe there will be opportunities, and everything is still wide open, so I'm looking forward to it,” Bottas said.