Mercedes’ report from qualifying for the French Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.
- Lewis claimed his 86th Formula One pole position – his third of the 2019 season and second at the Circuit Paul Ricard
- Valtteri will start tomorrow’s French Grand Prix from P2 on the grid
- Both drivers will start the race on the Medium tyre
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s not an easy track here and Valtteri’s been quick all weekend, so I’m really happy to have got the potential out of the car. The team has done a fantastic job. I was chipping away and those last two laps were the ones. The wind picked up and it was quite gusty around the track. On that last lap, I was up nearly half a second but I just lost it in the second to last corner, the gust took the back end. But, I was still up on my previous best, which is the main thing. I’m just really happy, we’ve been working really hard and overall, it’s some great teamwork. It’s going to be another hot day tomorrow and the tyres will be a challenge, but I’m excited to see how it will play out.”
Valtteri Bottas: “Overall, it’s been a pretty good weekend for me so far, but Lewis put in some really strong laps in Q3 which I was unfortunately unable to match. I couldn’t get the corner combination of Turn 8 and 9 quite right and that’s where I lost one and a half tenths to him in the first run of Q3, otherwise our lap times looked pretty similar. On the second run, I had no tow on the straights which made it almost impossible to improve. It looks like tomorrow will be challenging; the temperatures are forecasted to be very high which will make it tricky for the tyres, so it’s not going to be easy. But it’s close, I feel good and the points will be given out tomorrow.”
Toto Wolff: “It’s been a good weekend for us so far and we’ve seen a strong Qualifying session. This track suits our car; we have lots of downforce which is an advantage on a circuit that is less power sensitive and has many corner variants. Both drivers were strong today, but ultimately Lewis came out on top. I think there was a bit more wind in the end of Q3, so most drivers were struggling, but Lewis put in a really strong lap and managed to improve on his times. It will be very hot tomorrow, so the challenge will be to get the tyres to the end; it’s good to start on the Mediums, but all drivers around us will be on the same tyre. There are two strong drivers in the second row, so we’ll need a good initial get-away and good reliability to finish the weekend on a good note.”
Andrew Shovlin: “Well done to the whole team on another front row lock-out and to Lewis on another pole position. A gust of wind cost him four tenths to himself in the last couple of corners; this just shows how well his lap was going up until that point, that it still put him on pole by a healthy margin. The car has been good to work with today, the changes overnight seemed to help the balance and the bulk of the work this morning was understanding how to get the most out of the tyres on a single lap. Qualifying itself was quite straightforward. We wanted to start the race on the Mediums, so had to get through the second Qualifying session on that compound. As it happened, more teams than ever were successful in doing this, but it’s no bad thing that the cars around us will be starting the race on the same rubber. Our focus now moves to the race. We’re anticipating the hottest track temperatures that we’ve raced on all year and Ferrari and Red Bull are often strong in these conditions, so we won’t take anything for granted. “