Mercedes: “It’s certainly a much more encouraging picture”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Toto Wolff and Andrew Shovlin give their comments on the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team won its second consecutive Sprint with Valtteri Bottas, while Lewis Hamilton charged from P20 to P5 at the flag.

  • Valtteri claimed the lead at the start and then drove a commanding race to finish P1, taking his 20th career pole position.
  • Lewis charged from P20 to P5 at the flag, meaning he will start the race from P10.
  • The drivers completed 16 overtakes during an otherwise processional Sprint qualifying.
  • Valtteri’s three points represented a valuable addition to the constructors’ championship.
Valtteri Bottas

Today the start was the key thing for me and I got a good one! We gambled a little bit with the soft tyre. We knew that it would be a benefit for the start and it worked and it was all about trying to survive until the end. It was quite tricky in the final laps but Max still struggled to follow in the corners, so I’m glad it worked out perfectly. The support here from the fans has been amazing here, so thank you as well to everybody who came out today!

Lewis Hamilton

Honestly, I had no idea what was possible today – I didn’t set a limit or a maximum. When I was at the back of the grid at the start before we pulled away for the formation lap, I think I might have been able to see like, 10 and I was like ‘okay, that’s my goal, I’ve got to try and get up as far as possible’ but then all of a sudden I was chipping away at it much faster and I really used a lot of different things for motivation today. I just never give up, you can’t ever give up. It has been tough today: while the team was working away, talking with the stewards, I was just trying focus on my work with my engineers and keeping the morale with my mechanics high and just focusing on the job at hand. Not thinking about it. Of course, it was devastating when I heard about the verdict but you can’t let that hold you back. You’ve got to keep your head down and keep going. I quickly reset, got my mind focussed on doing what I could do and just giving it my everything.

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Toto Wolff

Sometimes after the greatest frustrations with this sport, you can forget the politics for a moment and watch great racing. Valtteri was totally in control today – a great car, the right tyres, good straight-line speed – and he was just brilliant, not letting the other guy close. As for Lewis, he made 15 overtakes to finish P5 and it was a fantastic drive. Looking at the penalty: the car was tested yesterday and then two hours before today’s race, we got the information that we had been disqualified. That was disappointing because there is a modus operandi in the sport, and we had a car that we do not consider was in breach of the technical regulations. In the past, we have seen teams given permission to repair this kind of failure, and at the last two race weekends, we have seen permission granted to make repairs to damaged wings during the qualifying session, which equally operates under parc fermé. We believe our wing was damaged on track but instead we were reported to the Stewards. After that, the Stewards did the job they were asked to and their argument needs to be respected; therefore, we decided not to appeal, also because it would have put the entire weekend’s results at risk, and we must take it on the chin and understand that this goes both ways. Looking to the Grand Prix, I believe we have a good car, and it was encouraging to see we can overtake, although it will be a different game tomorrow in hotter conditions. Lewis will start P10 with his engine penalty and Valtteri will be on pole and gunning for the win. It’s certainly a much more encouraging picture than it looked to be before the sprint race.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s been long, busy and difficult day but we finished on a high. A fantastic drive from Valtteri to secure pole for tomorrow. It was a calculated risk starting on the soft tyre but it worked well for us in the morning and the grip off the line helped us take the lead. Valtteri then had his work cut out to hold Max at bay with a tyre that ultimately has more degradation but he managed it brilliantly. Lewis had an equally impressive race; finding out that you have been moved from P1 to P20 shortly before the race starts is not an easy outcome to deal with but he attacked every inch of the way and has put himself back in contention for a strong result tomorrow. It was also encouraging to see the car working so well again, the conditions were quite cool and that may have helped us to follow closely but it certainly seems that we have good pace around this track. Winning these championships will be one of the toughest challenges we have ever faced but today reminds us why we must never give up.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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