Silver Arrows Deliver as rain provides tense qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton today took his 54th career pole position – his 2nd in Spielberg and 5th of the 2016 season so far. Despite qualifying in P2, Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix from P6 after incurring a gearbox penalty. Both drivers completed one run in Q1 and two runs in Q2 and Q3.
This is definitely one of those tracks that I have to keep working at and I’ve been building up to today’s qualifying session. It’s not an easy track to execute the perfect lap and admittedly it’s not my best circuit. As a driver I’m someone who brakes nice and deep and here you have to lift off the accelerator early, keeping your minimum speed high, which is not something I’m used to doing. The track dries up so quickly here – it’s a great feature of this circuit and made qualifying really interesting. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit cooler which will help me in managing my tyres and I can get off to a good start. The race will be interesting and I’m hoping it will be a good day.
It was a huge team effort today, with both sides of the garage working together to get my damaged car ready for qualifying. It was a tricky session with the rain and the perfect lap didn’t quite come together which meant Lewis was quicker. The five place grid penalty will be costly as Lewis will start from the front tomorrow and it will be tough to fight through the other cars with the ultra-soft. It will definitely be an exciting race, though, and there’s still a lot to play for.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
First of all, I want to take a moment to recognise the awesome job by our mechanics today. As qualifying started, Nico’s car was still being put back together after the suspension failure this morning; 15 minutes later, he was top of the timesheets. That was teamwork of the very highest quality and another confirmation of what a great group of people we have. Overall, it has been a pretty intense day, with a lot of unexpected challenges, so it’s fantastic to end up P1 and P2 in qualifying – even though Nico will take a gearbox penalty tomorrow after it was changed following the accident this morning. Qualifying was one of those sessions where it’s much easier to make mistakes than get everything right – and it was all about hitting that perfect window for the final lap on dry tyres, because the conditions were changing so fast. We managed to get both cars onto the right tyres, then the drivers didn’t put a foot wrong to take the top two positions; both of them put in great laps right at the end. Looking at tomorrow, we have some different approaches at the front of the grid in terms of tyre choice, plus Nico will be on a recovery strategy to make up ground after his penalty, so I think there’s still plenty of action to come…