Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport lock out the front row in Baku. Valtteri Bottas claimed his eighth Formula One pole position – his second of the 2019 season and first in Azerbaijan. Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s race from P2 on the grid, completing the third front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2019. Both drivers will start the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on the Soft tyre.
This pole feels really good, the entire team did a great job today. We saw early on in the Qualifying that the Ferraris were very quick, as they were all weekend, but by the time we got to Q3 we were able to extract the maximum from our car and the tyres. As the track was evolving and cooling down, our car was behaving better and better, so it was good that it all came together when it really counted. It’s nice to start from the front, but nothing is done yet – tomorrow is what counts. As we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen around this track, so staying out of trouble is going to be important. Race pace is going to be crucial as well as it is relatively easy to overtake on this track. I think it’s going to be an exciting race tomorrow, the top teams all looked very close on long run pace, so it should be fun. I have a bit of unfinished business here in Baku from last year, so I’ll give my best tomorrow.
We didn’t think we’d be quick enough to lock out the front row here, Charles in particular had been very strong all weekend. We’ve made improvements and we thought we’d get within one or two tenths, but not quite make it. So I’m really proud of everyone in the team that we did it. This is one of the toughest, most challenging Qualifying sessions and circuits of the season, but I really enjoy the challenge. I’ve struggled at this track in the past, so I’m grateful to be on the front row. I was really close to getting pole today, my first lap in Q3 was actually quite good, but on my second lap I lost three tenths in the first two corners and while I did make most of it up, it wasn’t enough for pole in the end. So I’m happy in one respect, but on the other hand I’m disappointed because I could have taken pole today. I’ll try and make a difference tomorrow – the start is going to be important, our long run pace looked good, but there are usually lots of Safety Cars here, so lots can happen in the race.
The longer the Qualifying session took today, the better our performance looked. It’s really tricky to get the tyre temperatures in the right window and we were struggling with that all weekend long, but when the ambience and track temperatures dropped towards the end of the session, our car was behaving much better than it had all weekend long. We gained relative performance the longer the session went on and by the time we got to Q3, the competitive order had changed. We didn’t expect so many cars going out right with us at the end of Q3, so we were bunched up behind them and both Lewis’ and Valtteri’s outlaps were compromised. As a result, both of them struggled and Lewis lost quite a bit of time in the beginning of his final lap, but it was enough to lock out the front row for us. It’s relatively easy to overtake in Baku, so race pace is going to be key tomorrow.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1