Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team maximises team performance during qualifying in Monza for P5 and P6.
Lewis Hamilton finished in P5, although grid penalties will see him starting P19 tomorrow.
George Russell finished in P6, running used tyres on his final lap to save a new set for the race, and will start from P2 on the grid after penalties have been applied.
With a large number of grid penalties to be applied, tomorrow’s Grand Prix promises to be a variable race, with a number of cars fighting back through the field.
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It was an okay session from my side but not my best. Today, we are off the pace of the frontrunners so there wasn’t much more I could do – it’s at these low downforce levels that we seem to be less competitive, and to lose pace relative to the teams around us. It’s going to be tough for us tomorrow starting from the back because the DRS effect is not big, and I expect a lot of cars will be running in DRS trains. So, it could be a frustrating day for us – but I will try to keep positive and give it everything I’ve got.
Q1 started off well, just a few tenths behind Ferrari, and I hoped that was where we were going to be – then the session just ran away from us to be honest, and I ended up 1.4 seconds away. We took a risk on the final run to save a set of new Soft tyres for tomorrow, and I’m pleased that neither Lando nor Fernando jumped us, as that was ultimately the fight for P2 on the grid tomorrow. Looking to the race, we need to focus on ourselves – it will be hard to keep Max behind, Charles is starting in front, then we have Sergio, Carlos and Lewis coming from the back. We need to run our own race, focus on staying in the podium positions and put up a good fight.
Overall, that session was probably a little worse than we had hoped for – not in terms of our final positions, which were probably our maximum today, but with respect to the gap to the front of the grid. We started the weekend well and haven’t been able to continue that momentum through the weekend – and on the flip side, Ferrari did an awesome job here in qualifying. I guess the positive point is that George will start from P2 – even though he was complaining of poor grip from the tyres on his timed laps. Lewis obviously goes to the back row with his engine penalty, so we will need a strong recovery tomorrow if we hope to get to the points. We knew coming into this weekend that this wouldn’t be a great track for us, but I hope that we can continue our trend of better race pace than single lap and maximise our opportunities in the race.
Considering all the penalties across the grid we’ve ended up in the best position we realistically could with George on the front row. We took a bit of a risk by saving a set of his new tyres on the final run in qualifying, we didn’t realise it would be quite that tight when we made the call but luckily his first run was good enough for P6 which means he inherits P2 for tomorrow and we still have a new set of softs available. The car has been a bit of a handful this weekend, more reminiscent of Spa than of Zandvoort, but our long runs this morning were stronger than in FP2 and we have a bit better handle on where to position the balance for the race. It’s difficult to know what to expect tomorrow; so many cars are out of position, and this is a race that rarely passes without incidents. Hopefully with George we’ve got the pace to stay up front and with Lewis it is a recovery race which will depend on how easily we can overtake the slower cars and how well we can manage the tyres compared to our competitors.