Lewis Hamilton will start his 300th Grand Prix from P4, after finding time on his final lap in Q3. George Russell also improved and will start in P6.
The Mercedes team was not able to maximise its pace in Q1 due to traffic and yellow flags, while Q2 showed signs of improvement in terms of car performance.
The very hot conditions will place a premium on long run performance and good tyre degradation, which has been a Mercedes strength at other races this season.
‘I was quite happy with my lap and my performance at the end of Q3, it was a nice lap. But for whatever reason, we seem to be a lot further off this weekend, and so is the whole chasing pack. The two top teams are just in their own league performance-wise. I’m not sure why that gap has got bigger between these two races. Considering I missed FP1, which definitely puts you on the back foot, I’m really happy with the progress that I made and everyone back at the factories was working very hard with us. We took a step backwards today in final practice, but we managed to turn it around. We’re still there and everyone behind me is struggling, too, so we just keep fighting.’
‘As a team I feel we’re a bit further away than we would have hoped or expected, especially after yesterday. Personally, I had a good start to Q3, I was in P4 and just made a mistake on my last lap. At the end of the day, I think the time gap to the front is more concerning than the position. We need to understand it, as we’re the only team on the grid that closes the gap to the front on a Sunday compared to a Saturday. All the other gaps extend, and we manage to reduce it. Hopefully, Lewis can take the fight to Checo tomorrow, but I think Charles and Max are probably too quick for us at the moment.’
‘Lewis has done an immense job so far. He’s probably extracted more than the car has at the moment. We are on the back foot, not meeting our expectations that we had for this weekend. Overall, our package is just not quick enough and you can see that. So, we have been experimenting with rear wing levels and tyre temperatures. Once we got the new tyres on in Q3 we knew we were going to be the third quickest, as we have been all season and it’s just not good enough for us. Nevertheless, we’ll work hard overnight and try to be in a better position tomorrow in the race.’
‘Not an easy qualifying today. We’ve struggled for single lap pace all day and both drivers did a good job to get the cars into the top six, given that it was no easy task to get through to the final session. We were trying a range of approaches to the out lap, looking to put the tyres in a different window but it wasn’t really giving us any better overall pace. We don’t really have an answer as to why the gaps were so large but at least we are not too far down the order. We’re hoping that the race pace is stronger, which has been a general trend of our car although we didn’t do enough laps on Friday to get a good read on this. The race is going to be tough on the tyres though, the degradation we have seen up and down the field is higher than we expected and the forecast is for track temps over 50°C. That may create some opportunity but it’s hard to set our expectations without knowing where the long run pace will fall out. Hopefully we’ll be stronger than today and looking forwards not backwards but regardless, we’re learning more and more each time we run the car and it’s all an important part of us getting back to where we want to.’