George Russell qualified sixth and Lewis Hamilton seventh for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. The Mercedes team made improvements overnight which helped take the fight to Ferrari and Aston Martin, and the top four teams were closely matched through Q1 and Q2, with larger gaps appearing in Q3 as some teams had saved two new sets of tyres for the final part
On Friday, the team showed relatively stronger race pace than on a single lap, which promises a stronger performance tomorrow.
‘Today was a lot better than we expected, particularly after yesterday. We had a tough Friday; we expected to add a little bit of performance overnight, but we exceeded expectations. The changes we made we thought we might find a tenth, but we found close to five or six tenths, so we need to fully understand why that was. It’s positive news but after FP3, we just focused on maximising performance. The car is feeling nice to drive so we are in a much better starting place than we were with the W13. We can now focus on adding global performance rather than problem solving. Tomorrow, we are in a good place to fight for third. Qualifying three tenths behind Ferrari when they have probably been the fastest car on single lap pace is positive. Fernando is probably more of a dark horse than Ferrari.’
‘I thought today may be worse than it ended up being. We did some great work overnight and the car felt much better in FP3. Overall, Qualifying was OK. I thought we might struggle to get into Q3 yesterday, but we didn’t. We were in a fight. We don’t know if we have the same race pace that we showed last year but I’m hoping we can be in the fight amongst the group behind Red Bull. It’s really all going to depend on what our long-run pace is like. I am genuinely happy for Aston Martin. It’s amazing to see their progress and the steps that they have taken. I am happy for Fernando as he’s been here way longer than me so it’s good to have him back in the mix! I’m sure we will have some good races.’
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
‘The gap to the very front isn’t ridiculous considering we only ran one new soft tyre at the end of Q3. Nevertheless, it’s not where we want to be and not what we had aimed for over the winter. We know what the gap is and what we need to find, or more, to win. Neither driver had a clean lap in the final run. There was probably another tenth-and-a-half still in there but it likely wouldn’t have changed much. We maybe could have overtaken Alonso with both cars, but this is where we are. We are super critical of ourselves and what we need to achieve. There is no such thing as a sacred cow in our team, and we look at everything. The whole Team thinks like that, so we just need to get our heads together and work out the next steps from here. But first we race tomorrow – and we will be giving it everything we’ve got to move forward up the field.’
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
‘Clearly, we’re disappointed to be so far off pole, but we looked much further off yesterday. It’s encouraging that the car responded to the overnight changes, and we’ve managed to improve a few of the issues like the high-speed cornering. Through the morning session the car was behaving quite predictably given the hotter conditions. There was a bit of fine-tuning going into qualifying and early on, it looked like we were in a pretty good place. As the sessions went on the others seemed to be finding a bit more pace. We also only had one set of tyres for the final part of Qualifying so that added up to leaving us with a gap that’s bigger than we’d like but one that we’ll be working hard to close down. Our straight-line speed looks strong, and our degradation seems to be in a reasonable place; the Red Bulls are out of reach from what we have seen but it would be good if we can get into a race with the Ferrari and Aston Martins.’