The Mercedes-AMG F1 team to start the Italian Grand Prix from the second row. Lewis Hamilton finished Qualifying in P3 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix from P4 on the grid.
That was an exciting qualifying session! We’ve improved the car overnight and I’m really happy with where we were today. I’m really proud of my guys for pushing this hard – we’ve squeezed absolutely everything out of the car today. Going into the second run of Q3, I kind of knew that the Ferraris might just be able to pull out some extra bit of time, but I think second place might have been possible today. I lost maybe half a tenth in the last corner and that’s the difference between third and second. We’ve got to fight hard tomorrow. The long run pace of the Ferraris looked quicker than ours, so it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. The start will hopefully create an opportunity for us. I’ve got to study hard tonight to figure out a way how I can get in front of at least one of the Ferraris on the first lap. It’s great that Valtteri is right behind me, so we can really apply the pressure on the red cars.
The entire day was pretty difficult for me. We made some set-up changes for FP3; the car was better in the corners afterwards, but we lost performance under braking and it just became very easy to lock up the wheels. Obviously, on this high-speed track you need to be able to trust your brakes; unfortunately, I was never really able to do that. Compared to FP3, the car felt a bit better in qualifying, but still not quite there. I made a mistake going into Turn 1 on the first lap in Q3 and after that it was difficult to really get the corner right in the second run. But this was only qualifying – this weekend is not over, the race is tomorrow and we will try everything to put the Ferraris under pressure and challenge them. We’ll see what we can do strategy-wise and I think the first lap is going to be interesting as we might be able to get a bit of a tow-effect into Turn 1.
That was a really close qualifying session – but we came out just on the wrong side of things in the final run, after taking provisional pole early in Q3. Congratulations to Ferrari: they have done a very good job to improve their package and they had a little bit more than us today when we laid the cards on the table at the end of Q3. It was a tense session, looking for the right kind of tow to get the benefit down the straights, and there was a bit of gamesmanship as well to spice things up, which is normal when things are so close and the slipstream brings an advantage. Lewis put in two strong laps in Q3, right on the limit and even improving on his final run, but just missing out on the front row by a few hundredths. For Valtteri, it has been a trickier weekend and he has not felt as comfortable with the car, which is reflected in his position today. For tomorrow, perhaps starting P3 and P4 is not the worst thing in the world, with the powerful slipstream at this track. It’s clear that we need to attack flat out – and that’s what we intend to do.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1