Lewis Hamilton stormed to his 75th Formula One pole position – his third of the 2018 season and first at the Circuit Paul Ricard. Valtteri Bottas came home in P2 on the grid, completing the second front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport of the season. Today’s result marks the 52nd front-row lockout for Mercedes in Formula One. Rain interrupted running in FP3 just a few minutes into the session. Both drivers will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix on the SuperSoft tyre.
I’m really happy with the pole, but I always strive for perfection and there was some time left on the track, so I still have stuff to work on. I was three tenths down in the first two sectors; but fortunately, I fixed my last sector and caught it back up. Leading the field is where I want to be, so it’s great to be back on pole. The track is growing on me as well; the more you drive it, the more you get to enjoy it. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we have so many fans coming out here, so I’m hoping the weather is good tomorrow. Ferrari will start the race on the UltraSoft tyres, we’re on the SuperSofts, so that should be interesting. We definitely pulled together and have done a better job so far this weekend, but it’s going to be close tomorrow. So I will keep my head down and try to capitalise on all the hard work coming into the race.
We were strong today, the team did a really good job. I myself got an okay lap, but did not yet get a perfect lap together. It felt like I was playing catch-up all day after I missed a lot of track time in FP2 track time in FP3 was limited for everyone. So I was still finding gains in every run throughout qualifying. In the end it was not quite perfect, but it was enough to get us a front-row lockout. The team has done an amazing job upgrading the car; every single upgrade, including the engine, helped to make the car better and the total package brought us the front row today. It seems like it might be difficult to overtake on this track, so it’s very good to start from the front. We will see different strategies tomorrow, Ferrari will start on a softer tyre than and it will be interesting to see what effect that has. We have a good car and should have all the tools to fight for a 1-2 tomorrow and I’ll do my best to fight for the win.
This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions and, after the blow we took two weeks ago in Montreal, it’s fantastic to have both cars on the front row here in Paul Ricard. The team has put blood, sweat and tears into our development programmes over the past weeks and months – and this weekend’s package is the first part of that work to come to fruition. The headline has been the new Power Unit, which has been a massive effort from all the team in Brixworth, but we are continuing to learn and improve in every area of how we run the car, and that work is starting to pay off. Having said all of that, we didn’t come here expecting to put our cars first and second on the grid – it is so close this season between the top three teams that every detail counts, and I’m really proud of the work that we have done since being caught off guard in Montreal. But today is only Saturday – the points are given out tomorrow. There is uncertainty over the weather, and we have taken a different approach to tyre strategy compared to Ferrari, so there are plenty of questions to be answered before we can consider this a job well done.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1