Australian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton has denied that the engine map setting labelled ‘party mode’ was key to to his sharp time improvement between his Q3 laps.
The Mercedes driver was one of several to attempt a second flying lap and improve on their lap time in the dying moments of Q3.
However, Hamilton was able to make gains of over eight tenths of a second to claim his 73rd career pole position by a hefty six tenths of a second over Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Earlier in the weekend, Hamilton had expressed his excitement at being able to use Mercedes’ qualifying setting, nicknaming it “party mode”.
This lead many to suspect that the jump in pace was down to the much-anticipated power unit setting, but Hamilton insisted that the mode had been active in Q2 and for his earlier lap in Q3.
“During that lap I was in the same mode that I was in before but it was just really hooking up the tyres, getting them at the right temperature and then putting the lap together,” said Hamilton after qualifying.
“I had good sectors before, maybe the first lap of qualifying but after that I had to put them together.
“I can assure you, we don’t have a party mode. I use the same mode from Q2 to the end of Q3.
“There was no extra button, there was no extra button that I engaged.”
Vettel responded to the comment by querying why Hamilton hadn’t set a similar lap time before, asking: “What were you doing before then?”
“I was waiting to put a good lap in, wipe the smile off your face,” Hamilton quipped.
Hamilton added that he had been surprised by the pace of the Ferrari’s during the qualifying hour.
“It definitely wasn’t straightforward. It was not the easiest of sessions,” added Hamilton.
“It was a real surprise to see how quick the Ferraris were, from already Q1. The speeds they had on the straights; they’ve obviously made an improvement in their power mode.
“I think we were similar speed through the corners but definitely their power mode was quite strong.”