Spanish Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are confident of underlining their car’s pace on Sunday, having taken P1 & P3 respectively in qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position on Saturday, defeating Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with a time of 1:19.149 to go less than a tenth clear of the championship leader. Acknowledging the strength of Vettel’s challenge, Hamilton said: “That was a really intense qualifying. We had to pull out every millisecond we could to take pole. We made some changes ahead of qualifying and the car felt great, so I was very happy with it. The race pace is looking good and the team has done an incredible job this weekend, as always.
I don’t know if the guys back at the factory get tired of hearing this, but they’ve done an incredible job. To make this step forward and bring a great package for this weekend to keep us in the fight with the Ferrari, I’m so grateful to them. We’ll work as hard as we can on Sunday so that effort doesn’t go to waste.”
Valtteri Bottas, having claimed his maiden F1 victory last time out in Russia, said that he felt Ferrari had risen to the pace of Mercedes as the weekend progressed. The Finn required a power unit change earlier in the day, due to the team feeling the need to take precautions with his original unit, and he said moving back to the old spec engine had hampered his challenge: “For most of the weekend we’ve had the edge on Ferrari but in Q3 they raised their game. For me starting the day with the engine change and moving back to the old engine, I was always going to be on the back foot. I really struggled through qualifying with the rear stability of the car, so it was difficult to find a good rhythm.
It wasn’t one of my best qualifying sessions but I’m happy with the job that the team has done. You could see Lewis was very strong and quick today. It’s a shorter run down to Turn 1 than in Sochi, but we’ve seen in the past that you can make positions from the second row. I’ve done some good things from P3 before. Everything is still wide open. We’re happy with the race pace and upbeat for tomorrow.”