It was a hard-fought P3 and P4 for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in Azerbaijan, as the team maximised their opportunities to leave Baku with a sizeable haul of points, having put themselves in the hunt with strong driving, bold strategy and being operationally solid.
Both drivers made a clean start, holding position and settling into the opening stint before a VSC on lap 9 presented the opportunity for a cheap stop, which the team pounced on with both drivers.
Subsequent DNFs for both Ferraris moved George Russell up to P3 and Lewis Hamilton up to P6.
The Mercedes pair took advantage of a second VSC which consolidated George’s P3 and put Lewis in a position to charge through Yuki Tsunoda, then hunt down Pierre Gasly for a well-earned cruise to the end in P4.
‘We were smashing the ground every single corner and every lap for 90 mins, it was pretty brutal – I’ll sleep well tonight! It’s what we’ve got to deal with it at the moment, there’s not much we can do in the short-term. There’s lots of intelligent people, hugely talented engineers in the sport so I’m sure we’ll find a solution. We didn’t get the podium on pure pace today but we did it because the team have worked very hard to deliver a reliable car, we did a good job to be ahead of the midfield and obviously we picked up on Ferrari’s misfortune. As a team, we take that as a positive and kudos to everyone at Brackley and Brixworth on all the hard work. We know we aren’t quick enough and we’ve got a long way to go to bring performance. We’re experimenting and trying things, one week turnaround to Montreal will be tough to find the solution but hopefully we’ll get there soon.’
‘I just got through that race on adrenaline, biting down on my teeth through the pain. I can’t express the pain that you experience, especially on the straight here. And at the end, you’re just thinking of all the people relying on you for the points. But we’re in such a good position still! Third and fourth is a great result for the team. The team did a great job with the strategy and once we’ve fixed this bouncing we’re going to be right there in the race. We’re losing over a second for sure just with bouncing, or at least a second. I’ll be at the factory tomorrow, we’ve got to have some good discussions and keep pushing.’
‘This is where we are at the moment – not as quick as the front runners but clear of the midfield. We never enjoy our rivals’ misfortune, we want to see a strong fight at the front and we’re hoping to catch up and join so there’s six of us there fighting. A strong job from George today, he managed the race and took his podium well. We need to find a solution for the bouncing because the car we gave Lewis today was so tough to drive, you could see the pain in his back all weekend. After running on Friday, we knew we had big limitations with the car in Baku so it was a case of maximising our strategy, driving and our operations. The team did a great job on all three to ensure we were in the mix and ready to take advantage of any opportunity that came our way. Today, it paid off and we leave Baku with a good haul of points but we are under no illusion of the job we have ahead of us to get back to the front. There are no holy cows, everything is being looked at and we’ve got a great team trying to solve our issues.’
‘We can be pleased with the result today as we’ve achieved the maximum possible – both drivers raced well, the strategy was good and it was a welcome reward to see George on the podium again. However, we were lucky to inherit the Ferrari positions today, the gaps to the front are just as big as Monaco, we’re currently heading up the midfield and that won’t leave anyone in Brackley or Brixworth satisfied. So, lots of work to do to; we’ve got to improve the ride quality for the drivers as they have tolerated it today but it’s not acceptable to put them through that every Sunday and we’ve clearly got to find a huge chunk of laptime. The bumpier tracks seem to be a particular problem for us and Montreal is not especially smooth so we’ve got one area there to work on over the next few days before we get running again. The team is determined to continue pushing to find solutions, to find performance and to get back to racing at the front.’