Lewis Hamilton has hailed Mercedes’ “dream” qualifying as they look to do battle with unruly leader Max Verstappen…and now the seven-time champ is eager to give Red Bull a “run for their money” in Sunday’s race!
Lewis Hamilton is in dreamland after a strong qualifying session for Mercedes that saw driver and team mate George Russell set to start third and second respectively at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The seven-time world champion has struggled with his car this season as the builder appeared to be suffering from hangover effects from last year’s W13.
But the team looked their way back to their best on a cold and windy Saturday through three qualifying sessions, with second-placed George Russell taking just 0.236 seconds off tomorrow’s race leader, Max Verstappen.
After the session, Hamilton could hardly believe the team’s success in Melbourne.
said the British driver L Sky Sports: This is totally unexpected. Really proud of the team.
Lewis Hamilton will start from third place after Mercedes knocked out the top three on Saturday
The seven-times world champion finished a perfect qualifying session on Saturday
George (Russell) did a great job there today, so for us to be in the front two rows is honestly a dream for us.
“We’re all working as hard as we can to get back to the front straight, so to be close to Red Bull is just incredible.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate suffered a qualifying session to forget after crashing in Q1, flinging his car onto the gravel.
As a result, Sunday’s grid will be finished by the leading constructors, with Perez – winner of last weekend’s Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia – starting 20th at Albert Park.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can give them a run for their money and hopefully the weather will be good.
I am so grateful for this position and will work as hard as I can tomorrow.
(My goal) is to get to the first.
I’ll try and see and hope like my first day here 2007, Turn One.
I don’t know if anyone remembers but I hope we can do it.
A repeat of the race for 2007 saw Hamilton capitalize on trouble at turn one from his fourth-place start to claim third and cap off his first Grand Prix appearance with a podium finish.
One detail from qualifying could give Hamilton pause and disrupt his good mood, as Saturday’s qualifying marked the third race of the season that Russell finished ahead of his team-mate.
Team chief drivers Toto Wolff faced Hamilton’s high spirits after qualifying and admitted today that the W14 “was fantastic”.
We got it together now over the weekend. We just got away from putting the performance into the car in terms of the right mechanical setup and I’m happy.
I think we learned through the session and we were open and changed the plan.
“I think it’s good to start second and third. It’s been a while since we had no one in front of our line in P2.
We’ll just try to get the most out of it. Verstappen is in the lead on his own but then maybe we can go in.
Wolff had previously been pessimistic about Mercedes’ chances this season after a patchy start to the year.
As recently as Friday, Wolff has suggested there are unlikely to be improvements to the car until the Imola Grand Prix in May.
Toto Wolff, who previously said it would be a challenge to compete against the builder’s flagship Red Bull, today said the W14 was ‘fantastic’.
Hamilton and teammate George Russell congratulated each other after the session
“We needed a little bit of happiness and at least for Saturday we got some of that.”
Over the radio after securing a third-place grid start, Wolff told his star driver that “slowly but surely”, the team was improving.
Mercedes has yet to see a podium finish this season, despite the near miss in Jeddah that saw Russell lift the third-place trophy to hand it back to the already third-placed driver, Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard was penalized with a time deduction for incorrectly serving a time penalty during the race, but this was overturned, and Alonso returned to the top three after three hours of deliberation.