The Silver Arrows to start 11th race of the 2017 season from second row. The team made a good step forward with car set-up following a difficult FP3 session. Valtteri Bottas ended qualifying in P3 with Lewis Hamilton 0.177 seconds shy in P4. Both drivers completed one run on SuperSoft in Q1, then two SuperSoft runs in Q2 and Q3.
I had to give it everything today. In my first run, the lap was already quite good. Then on the second run in Q3, I was fast in sector one and two but then the tyres overheated and I lost time in sector three. Overall I don’t think there was much more in it for us today. I was surprised by the pace of Ferrari. Yesterday we were hoping that it going to be a really tight fight for the pole. It was but they had the advantage. Now we need to focus on tomorrow. It will be really close on race pace between the top three teams. Starting from third is not too bad. I need a good start and hopefully we can nail the strategy tomorrow.
This hasn’t been the easiest weekend for us. The car didn’t feel completely underneath me during practice but we made some changes into qualifying and the feeling started to improve. We knew Ferrari would be quick after seeing their pace this morning, so considering that fact I think we did pretty well to lock out row two. My laps in qualifying were generally good but I made a mistake in Turn 4 on the first run in Q3, so after that it was all about getting in a banker lap to make sure I set a time. Looking to the race, maybe strategy or the tyres will come into play in a bigger way. Ferrari seems to have the upper hand this weekend and this race is usually a procession on a circuit where it is hard to follow, so there aren’ t many opportunities to gain positions. But we will be giving it everything we can.
The biggest positive point we can take from today was the step forward we made with the car between FP3 and qualifying. After a difficult morning, this put us back in the hunt for pole, but in the end we didn’t have enough at this circuit against Ferrari. Valtteri only missed out on a place on the front row by a small fraction of a second – but this also means he will start from the clean side of the grid. For Lewis, the car has been on a bit of a knife edge all weekend and, after he ran wide on his first lap in Q3, that put him on the back foot for the final run. When you only have one lap that counts, it’s hard to pull everything out of the car – and we knew we needed to squeeze every last drop of performance today if we were to get close to pole. Of course, starting behind two red cars doesn’t make life any easier but it’s a long run to turn one – and this is a circuit where the unexpected can happen. The strategy options look pretty straightforward, so we will need to do our racing out on track not in the pits. It will be an exciting but tough afternoon tomorrow.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport