Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport lock out the front row for the 2019 F1 season-opener in Melbourne. Lewis claimed his 84th Formula One pole position – his first of the 2019 season and eighth at Albert Park. Valtteri will start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix from P2 on the grid, completing the first front row lockout for the team in the 2019 season. Both drivers will start tomorrow’s race on the Soft tyres.
I feel so fortunate to be in the position I’m in today. We had no idea that we’d have this gap to the others – we thought we were behind, we thought it was going to be a push, so we gave it absolutely everything and more to arrive here with the best possible package and delivery. Valtteri and I have been pushing the car to its absolute limits. We haven’t massively changed the car; it’s almost the same set-up we had in Barcelona, so this gap was really surprising to see. This is the first time we’ve unleashed the full potential of the car and I’m so happy to have a car that I can fight with. This is a really great start to the new season and it puts us in a good position for the fight tomorrow.
I really enjoyed driving today, I was in a good flow and usually when you enjoy driving it shows on the time sheets as well. My first lap in Q3 was pretty good and I wanted to improve in my second lap, but I was stuck in traffic on my out lap, so my tyres were just a bit too cold at the start of the lap. Lewis did put in a fantastic lap, but I think without the traffic it would have been a close fight for pole today. We didn’t expect to be this strong – we’re happy, but frankly quite surprised to see that gap. We came here, not knowing where we’d be and actually thought we’d be a bit behind Ferrari. But we shouldn’t underestimate them; they looked very strong in winter testing and have a quick car, even if they struggled today. At the same time our team has done a really good job between Barcelona and here, constantly improving the car. Today was good fun, we both got some nice laps in, so let’s hope we will have a good Sunday as well. It’s a decent run into Turn 1, so hopefully I can get a good start, build a gap to the cars behind and have a good fight with Lewis.
I’m overwhelmed to see both our cars on the front row. The team has done a great job in the past weeks: after a difficult time in testing, especially in the first week in Spain, we have turned over every stone to find answers, to try and understand the car better. And it came together when it mattered for us today. But one result is not a reason to get carried away: not only is this circuit a bit of an outlier when it comes to performance, but we have strong rivals in Ferrari and Red Bull, and we know from hard experience in the past two years that the racing is done on Sunday and that’s the day that counts. For today, though, we can be happy with what we delivered – the team for a slick job in the garage, Lewis for his 84th pole and Valtteri for showing all his speed and taking a very close P2 on the grid. Now we turn our attention to the race.
Although the stopwatch yesterday told us that we were quick, we also knew from our running in Barcelona during the winter the threat from Ferrari was very real – and we believe it still is – so it is with a mixture of relief, surprise and delight that both our cars claimed front row positions today, confirming yesterday’s performance and setting us fair for a decent Sunday. However, we know our opponents are strong because we have seen it, so we will make sure we keep our guard up and concentrate on the small things that can catch us out – because we know that if we blink, our rivals will take it. Nonetheless, I am delighted for the whole team, for Lewis for his well-earned pole position and also for Valtteri, who really made Lewis fight for it today.