Toto Wolff says Red Bull has a strategic advantage in the race today, and adds Max Verstappen would have had a “solid pole” had he not made a mistake.
Mercedes managed to qualify in front of Red Bull at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite still being on the back foot. Toto Wolff says the result is down to the improvements Mercedes has made since the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We solved some of the balance issues that we had in Bahrain,” Wolff explained.
“The drivability of the power unit has gotten better and the track conditions obviously are very different to the ones in Bahrain, so all of that played a certain factor.
“But if you compare the laps to Red Bull, Max without the mistake would have been on pole, solid on pole.
“Maybe not as much as Bahrain, but he would have been there so we are also not making mistakes and trying to put everything together. All that food that gave us the pole position today.”
However, while Lewis Hamilton took pole, Valtteri Bottas qualified only in P8..
“Valtteri was pretty good all weekend in turn two and three but both drivers had a warm up issue at the beginning of the track.
“In Q1, once we were able to give Valtteri second lap on the tyre to bring in the temperatures, he was really very good. I think the Q1 second Q1 lap would have gotten him on P4.
“So it’s a warm up issue and we know exactly what it is and, and Valtteri knows but nevertheless, I think he’s he’s an okay position for the race tomorrow.”
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With two Red Bulls behind him, Hamilton will have a tough time at the start of the race. Hamilton and Verstappen will start the race on medium tyres, while Sergio Perez will start on softs, which gives Red Bull a strategic advantage over Mercedes.
“It is an advantage they have,” Wolff explained.
“You would normally say that starting on the soft is not as good but here it is an offset strategy and it’s not worse than starting on the medium.
“So, for sure, with two cars we know that it’s always an advantage and the offset strategies give them another shot.”
Mercedes’ team boss warns that, although Hamilton managed to secure pole, Red Bull still has the faster car.
“Clearly, Lewis’ lap today was very good. We have worked hard to sort out some of the balance issues that we had in Bahrain and I think we made a decent step on that.
“The drivability of the power unit has got better and the track conditions are obviously very different to the ones in Bahrain, so all of that played a certain factor.
“But if you one-for-one compare the laps to Red Bull, Max without the mistake would have been on pole. Solid on pole.
Maybe not as much as Bahrain, but he would have been there,“ concluded Wolff.