George Russell qualified fourth and Lewis Hamilton eighth for the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Overnight changes helped improve the operating window of the W14 in a field that, behind the Red Bulls, was incredibly tight.
Through Qualifying, the Mercedes team was in a close battle with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Alpine.
With Charles Leclerc taking a grid penalty, George will start Sunday’s race P3 with Lewis P7.
‘We have exceeded the potential and our own expectations to be ahead of an Aston Martin and a Ferrari. It is a solid job; we put in a lot of work overnight. The team back at Brackley were working hard in the simulator and we did a lot of work trackside this morning to try and get more out of the package. We know we are not in the fight for pole just yet, but you have to maximise what you’ve got, and we certainly did that today. We have a fight on our hands tomorrow, most likely with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. We will be pushing hard to get on the podium and seeing what we can do. This Team has higher standards and expectations for themselves than just finishing in the top three, but we will be giving everything we’ve got to be standing there on Sunday.’
‘I struggled a little bit today, but we just need to keep trying. No matter what changes we’ve been making, we’ve been struggling to extract the speed, and I just don’t feel properly connected to the car at the moment. That is something we will work on to improve the confidence in the next races. George did a great job today though and he wasn’t that far off some of the cars at the front, so we just need to keep pushing. It wasn’t the greatest of days but there are improvements for the Team. Tomorrow is a new day, and we will keep working at it.’
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
‘I think today is about where we expected to be. We know the deficits that we have and two tenths faster or slower can move us up or down a few positions; we know we need to make bigger steps forward than this, though, in the races to come. I think pace-wise tomorrow we are with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris; at least that is per the long runs yesterday, so we should be able to play around in the race. Lewis’s lap looked a bit sticky in sector one, so we need to look into that. The time never came together for him, but he was as fast or faster than George in the rest of the lap, and we need to evaluate what effect the differences in set-up had.’
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
‘It’s been a difficult weekend to get the car in the right place and I don’t think George could have got any more out of it with his laps in the final session. We’ve benefited from Max’s issues and Charles’ penalty to end up third on the grid, but George still had to get ahead of a number of key cars that were all pretty quick. Lewis had a tough time through the sessions, struggling with the balance and grip in the first sector. He had a very solid morning so it’s a bit of a surprise but hopefully we’ll see strong pace tomorrow. The race here normally has a few incidents so how well you do is often a function of whether they fall at the right times. Only a few places separate our cars so it gives us an opportunity to split them on strategies so we can cover the bases. Hopefully we’ll be a bit kinder on the tyres than we were in Bahrain; we’ve tried to work on the setup to achieve that and we’ll find out tomorrow if we’ve made progress.’