Last year the Mercedes W13 was a ‘Jekyll and Hyde‘ car, the team and their drivers not knowing what car would turn up race by race, day by day, and even session by session. Ditto the W14, full of surprises it seems, as witnessed this weekend Down Under.
Today’s qualifying, a case in point. Despite flashes of impressive pace in practice, the Mercs were not expected to be so quick in qualifying, simple as that. Even the drivers were ambushed by what they had on the day, much to the delight of Hamilton.
The veteran Mercedes F1 driver admitted in parc ferme: “This is totally unexpected. Really proud of the team. George did an amazing job there today so for us to be up on the front two rows is honestly a dream for us.”
Younger teammate George Russell was 0.136s quicker than Hamilton, meaning he lines up on the front row alongside pole winner Max Verstappen, his Red Bull a quarter of a second faster when it mattered in Q3.
Lewis: Hopefully we can give them a run for their money
Nevertheless, Hamilton was elated with today’s Mercedes mini-renaissance down under, at a venue where he has won twice (2008 and 2015) before: “We are all working as hard as we can to get right back up to the front so to be this close to Red Bull is incredible.
“Hopefully we can give them a run for their money and we hope the weather is good. I am super grateful for this position and I am just going to work as hard as I can tomorrow, to get to first.
“I am going to try and see and I will be hoping like my first day here in 2007, Turn 1… I don’t know if anybody remembers but hopefully, we can do that…” mused Hamilton.
Later he added in the team report: “This was a totally unexpected result and I’m so happy and grateful for P3. My second lap wasn’t as good as the first one. I did gain a little bit of time in the last sector, but ultimately lost out a little bit at the beginning of the lap.
“I’m not disappointed though and I’m going to work as hard as I can to try and move forwards tomorrow. I’m proud of the team. We’re all working as hard as we can to get right back up the front, so to be this close to Red Bull is incredible.
“Hopefully we can give them a bit of a run for their money. And we hope the weather will be good,” added Hamilton, an eight-time pole winner at Albert Park, seeking his 104th F1 victory on Sunday, a third at the venue.