(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)
Lewis Hamilton took his fourth pole position in a row for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix which takes place under the lights at the Sakhir International Circuit. The double world champion ended the session just 0.413s ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Speaking following the session, Hamilton stated:
‘I’m very happy with pole position. Coming into the weekend, the target was to master this track and get the car exactly how I wanted it here. I’ve been working hard to improve on every level and have tried to take a nice calm approach to each weekend. The car has felt how I wanted it to all weekend, so thank you to the team for achieving that; I’m so grateful to have this Mercedes beast underneath me. The laps felt great and I could really put the car right where I needed it through the corners. It’s great to have pole but Ferrari are very quick this weekend and they will be really hard to beat in the race. We’re in a good position with these grid slots but we’ll need to work hard to make the tyres perform in the right way tomorrow. I’m looking forward to an exciting race.’
Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg ended the session in third place 0.558s behind Hamilton and speaking following session the German stated:
‘Today I thought too much about the race and that was a mistake, as I didn't get into my rhythm for a perfect Qualifying. So I cannot be happy with the outcome today. Starting behind Sebastian also is really not good. I underestimated him and now I need to make the best of this situation, so I will be pushing a lot in the race. I need to have a good start, hope I can catch Seb there and then I need to manage my tyres better than the others.’
The Brackley based outfit head into tomorrow’s race leading the Constructors championship by forty points from Scuderia Ferrari and with Vettel starting the race in second and Raikkonen starting from fourth place Mercedes will be hoping that Rosberg can get ahead of the Ferrari at the start which will allow the Silver Arrows to dictate the pace of the race.
Speaking following qualifying Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff stated:
‘This qualifying session confirmed what we have been saying for a number of weeks now; the balance of power has shifted this year and we have a serious challenger at all circuits and in all conditions. Last year, the performance gap meant that we could be reasonably confident of claiming the front row each weekend – but that’s not the case any more. Ferrari has done a great job and they are snapping at our heels. Lewis put in a fantastic lap tonight. We had seen some glimpses of that pace during the session but it needed something special to take pole today. It maybe helped him that he pushed harder on his race start set of tyres in Q2, so he had a better feel for the limit of the track and the tyres. But this could also have a downside tomorrow, so we must see how that plays out. Nico was just a little bit off Lewis in each sector on the important lap and that was enough for Vettel to slip into second place. Looking ahead, tomorrow will be tougher and it will be closer – but we have a couple of options for how we tackle the race from P1 and P3. There might be days when we enjoy looking back at the comfort zone we had in 2014 – but the truth is that we all love getting out of bed in the morning and knowing that we have a real fight on our hands. It’s good for us and it’s good for the sport; that’s what motor racing is all about.’
Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe stated:
‘The weather conditions were always forecast to be windy today and it certainly turned out that way, with a reasonably strong, gusting headwind on the main straight and quite tricky conditions for the drivers. We didn’t have a great session in FP3 and headed into qualifying not feeling particularly confident of our pace. Indeed, as it turned out, nobody was quick enough to make it through Q1 without using Option tyres. We progressed through Q2 with a single run on Options and then elected to save a new set of tyres for the race by running a used set for the first lap in Q3 – just as Ferrari did. That meant it came down to a final lap battle between our cars and the two Ferraris. Lewis delivered a great pole lap while unfortunately Nico just missed out on a front row place alongside him. All of the top four cars will have a new set of Option tyres available for the race, which will mean it will be extremely close between all of us. We’re looking forward to an exciting evening tomorrow.
© Ben Johnston 2015