Encouraging qualifying session nets strong starting spots for Sunday
- George Russell qualified second and Lewis Hamilton third for Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix.
- A newly resurfaced track, coupled with a sand-swept surface, created challenging conditions in the solitary hour of practice at the Lusail International Circuit.
- Despite finishing P8 and P13 in FP1, the underlying pace looked strong and so it proved come qualifying on Friday evening.
- After advancing through Q1, Lewis topped Q2 with George P5 on a used set of the soft compound tyres.
- With two new sets of the soft tyre for Q3, both drivers set good opening laps with Lewis P2 and George P3.
- On George’s final push lap, he improved to a 1:24.219; Lewis was unfortunate to suffer a snap of oversteer and he couldn’t improve his time. That put our drivers P3 and P5 respectively.
- However, with both McLarens of Norris and Piastri having their final lap times deleted, George was promoted to the front-row with Lewis just behind in P3.
I am very happy with P2 today. FP1 was really challenging. The grip was low, and it was really windy. It was very dusty and sandy on the track. When we went out in qualifying, the track temperature had dropped, and the wind had calmed. The lap times had improved massively. The car felt good throughout the session, and I’m pleased with where we finished. It’s great to have Lewis behind me in P3 now. We can be strategic and work together. We’ve got our sights set on a strong result on Sunday, especially with both the McLarens and the Ferraris behind us. We know we’re going to have a fight on our hands as they will be quick.
It’s fair to say that the Grand Prix will be a completely different story if this track evolution continues. We’re going to have to learn on the job, but the F1 Sprint will give us a good indication of tyre wear and what the likely best strategy will be. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.
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Qualifying is always difficult and today was a pretty average session for me. It was quite windy out there and difficult at the beginning. We nearly didn’t get out of Q1 but fortunately we managed it. We were then right up there in Q2 which was encouraging. We’ve been a little bit surprised by our pace here today. It’s a good surprise and positive for the team. Being on the front two rows of the grid is clearly a good result. It’s important that we are ahead of both Ferraris and that is really key. George also did a great job today. I’m going to be giving it everything to try and bag the most points we can on Sunday.
We’re very pleased with P2 and P3 on the grid for Sunday. Especially after a tough weekend in Japan. Of course we benefited from McLaren’s misfortune. However, neither George or Lewis lost a lap to track limits throughout the entire qualifying session and that is important. We have to give them credit for keeping it clean.
The sprint races are always a challenge and is made a lot easier by hitting the ground running with a good balance. We’ve struggled with the format so far this year, so it was really pleasing to see both cars running well at the start of first practice. The track is evolving so rapidly here that we were constantly adapting plans through the qualifying sessions. We had a bit of a scare with Lewis in the Q1 where we were closer to the cut-off than was comfortable. Q2 and Q3 were well handled by both the team and drivers though. We’ve got another qualifying to get through tomorrow, but it’s good that the drivers are happy with the cars. We just need to get the tyres in the right place for the hotter conditions, but hopefully we can have another good session.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team