Lewis claimed his 45th career Formula One pole and seventh of the season. Nico takes his sixth front row start of the year to complete a sixth Silver Arrows qualifying 1-2 in 2015. The team has now claimed every pole position since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix – 19 in succession. The drivers completed two runs apiece in Q1 (intermediate / option), two in Q2 (option / option) and two again in Q3 (option / option). Both Lewis and Nico spun while pushing for further improvement on their final Q3 laps. Despite the mixed conditions, this year’s pole time was 0.304s quicker than the 2014 benchmark – and just 0.118 shy of the circuit record.
Generally it was quite a difficult session, for everyone I think, with the conditions. I’m really grateful I got that third lap in on the first run in Q3. I was pushing hard to find more time on the final lap of the second run and just locked the rears into Turn One. At that point I was backwards in seventh gear and just focused on trying to make sure I didn’t damage the car. But then, once I stopped, I thought I’d probably lost it. It was bizarre but I’m really happy to get pole. It will be an interesting race tomorrow. Ferrari have shown great pace so it will be close with them. The tyres seem to be behaving so we should be set for a good battle.
I had to push a lot at the end of my last qualifying lap – but I pushed a bit too much and went over the limit. I saw on my screen that I was two tenths quicker than on my previous run and therefore equal to Lewis. It was really up to the last few metres to make the pole happen but, at turn eight, I went wide and got a bit on the astroturf which was still wet. I think after that my left tyres were also wet and that made me lose control of the situation. It’s a shame but I still look very much forward to tomorrow. It’s a great race here and I still have good chances to win. I will need to have a good start to have a shot at Lewis but I will definitely be keeping the pressure high.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
First and foremost, we are shocked by the tragic events this afternoon in Graz. Our thoughts are with the injured and our deepest sympathies go the families of the victims. Next to something like this, our little world of Formula One pales into insignificance. On track, that was probably one of the strangest ends to qualifying I have ever seen. We had two drivers who thought they had lost pole, bringing out the yellow flags at different parts of the lap, and we still ended up on the front row. The mistakes on the final laps showed just how hard both guys were pushing out there. Nico had the upper hand for most of the session, then Lewis did a great time in Q3, before Nico was set to claim pole back until he went off at the last corner. We think it will be a much more difficult race for us tomorrow. Ferrari did some seriously quick long runs yesterday and today and they looked quicker than us, so it will be a tough battle. We will let our boys fight tomorrow, like we have done all along, but it will be a challenging afternoon.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
A great result but a bizarre ending when both of our cars spun off – one at the first corner and one at the last. It is a sign of how hard Lewis and Nico are pushing each other – right on the limit and, in this case, over the limit. It was also proof that qualifying in Formula One is all about ultimate pace – pushing driver and machine to the very limit. The session itself was a tricky one – especially with the drying track through Q1. There was a little bit of concern with Lewis, as we saw Kimi fall out at that point, but all turned out well. As the conditions improved, the session became more straightforward. Our plan had been built around getting secure lap times on the board with the first run in Q3 – fortunately so, as it turned out. Congratulations to the team, also, for the developments that we brought to this race which have kept us at the front of the field.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1