Toto Wolff after Friday’s Quali: “The Empire strikes back!”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After Lewis Hamilton snatched P1 in Friday’s qualifying for the Saturday Sprint Race, Darth Wolff says Mercedes ‘maybe unlocked something’.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was in good spirits after his drivers qualified in P1 and P3 for Saturday’s Qualifying Sprint Race.

“The Empire strikes back,” the Austrian told Sky Germany with a smile.

“It‘s ‘just’ qualifying, but maybe we unlocked something.”

Later, while talking with Sky Sports F1 Wolff said the result could have been even better had Lewis not lost his rear end for a moment in his final quali run.

“I think it’s good to come back, especially the pace of both drivers. Lewis could have probably been another three tenths up if he hadn’t gone rallying at the end.

“I’m happy about the pace.”

Wolff clarified that the upgrades Mercedes brought to Silverstone were not the main reason for the team’s improved performance.

“Well, it’s not the upgrade, I think it’s we’ve found bits everywhere, I think that the tyres were in the right window.

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“And yeah, the sweet spot of the car. You can see how it can fluctuate between Verstappen being absolutely dominant in the morning session and then it swings the other way around.”

Ultimately Wolff is very happy with how his team responded to the pressure brought on by Red Bull in the last five races.

“I think we see it as a test, because we’ve had seven championships in a row, we were never complacent.

“We were always humble about it and worrying that somebody could catch us up and then suddenly we find ourselves this year with a change of regulations that bite us more than we expected.

“So there’s something to learn, and also that we are behind and everything we talked about in the last few years about how we would react if that happens.

“Now, it is the test and we can see whether we can do what we have expected or not, but it doesn’t win you a championship.

“But it allows you to stay in the hunt and I am happy how we have reacted so far,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.

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