Hamilton, Russell, Wolff and Shovlin comment on Italian GP Quali

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Toto Wolff and Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2023 Italian Grand Prix Qualifying.

Second row for George and P8 for Lewis in qualifying at Monza, with the top nine separated by 0.7s in a tight ATA (Alternative Tyre Allocation) session.

  • A busy FP3 session saw the team focused on recovering from a mixed Friday practice, evaluating setup changes that had been trialled overnight in the simulator in Brackley.
  • Signs from FP3 on Soft tyres were encouraging but still left room for further improvement.
  • George took P4 on the grid with two strong Q3 laps, with the top nine covered by just 0.7s.
  • Lewis took P8, 0.15s behind his team-mate, after being limited by a lack of rear grip in qualifying.

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George Russell

You need to be dynamic in this new qualifying format as you jump down the tyre compounds, and I think we did a good job managing it today. The engineers did a great job overnight and we hit the ground running this morning, I felt more comfortable in the car. With the softer tyre compounds Pirelli have brought here, I think there’s the option to tune the set-up more aggressively for qualifying or favouring the race pace a little bit more. We’ve done the latter, so I hope it pays off tomorrow. There’s always lots of talk about a tow here, but it’s always a double-edge sword; I chose clean air on each run and it worked well today. Overall, though, this was a session that just shows how you need to get every detail right in F1: in Q1, I didn’t get the tyre in the right window and was P13; then in Q3, we ended up P4. Now it’s full focus on the race and I hope we can challenge for the podium.

Lewis Hamilton

That wasn’t the greatest session. We started off the weekend well in FP1 on the first run, then it feels like things have got more complicated and I just haven’t found the sweet spot with the car. It was improving through qualifying, and we made it to the top ten, but I still didn’t have the feeling I wanted with the car on the final run. We know how close the times are in qualifying, and that also translates to very similar race pace, which can make it hard to make up positions through the field, especially early in the race. George did a great job today to get on the second row, and I hope I can make progress forwards tomorrow.

Toto Wolff

That was a solid session for us but again a mixed outcome from qualifying – less than two tenths between our drivers, but that means four positions when it’s such a close field. George did a strong job to get onto the second row; Lewis found it more difficult to build confidence in the car, and he was struggling for rear grip through the sessions. We know how hard it is to overtake at this circuit, with the small wings and a reduced DRS effect. If George makes a good start, then he can fight at the front; if Albon gets past, for example, then it might be a more complicated afternoon for us. As for Lewis, we know what he can deliver in the race – and he will fight until the final metres to climb through the field. Finally, it was great to see Ferrari put on such a great show, and fantastic to see the emotions of the tifosi as well. It will be a long race tomorrow, probably a one-stop without too much variety in the strategy, but let’s see how we go when it comes to the race pace.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
It was a really solid lap by George to take 4th on the grid. We were miles off the pace yesterday, but some good work was done overnight to close that gap down. Lewis was the wrong side of a tight bunch but that’s how the grid is this year, his final lap began well but the rears started to give up in the final sector which cost him a few places. This track doesn’t suit our car particularly well so a podium is a stretch target but we’ll be looking for any opportunity to move both forward. We’re expecting a hot race tomorrow which is going to mean tyre management is a big factor. But that should also create possibilities to offset and open up some choices on strategy.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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