Valtteri narrowly edged team-mate Lewis to pole, securing a front row lockout!
- Lewis finished second quickest in FP3 with a 1:04.099, just 0.029 seconds behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Valtteri was 0.134s off the top spot, claiming P3.
- Conditions were warm and dry for qualifying, with Lewis and Valtteri progressing through to Q3 - setting their best Q2 times on SuperSoft compound, which they will start the race on.
- Valtteri set the pace after the initial Q3 runs on the UltraSoft tyre, before lowing his benchmark further on his last attempt to put in a 1:03.130.
- It was good enough for the Finn to take the fifth pole position of his Formula One career and first of the 2018 season, but only just!
- Lewis narrowly missed out on pole with his improved final lap, finishing just 0.019s off P1 with a 1:03.149. It secures the team a front row lockout.
- Saturday's qualifying result marks the 175th pole position for a Mercedes-Benz powered car.
What Did We Learn?
"It's great to get our second front row in succession and a fantastic reward for all the hard work that has gone on in Brixworth and Brackley bringing updates to these recent races," said Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin.
"Congratulations also to Valtteri on his first pole of the year. He's had more than his fair share of bad luck this year but has remained completely focused and committed so it's nice to see his hard work rewarded.
"The day has run quite smoothly, we made some changes to the car overnight that seemed to be a step in the right direction but we still had a bit of time to find in the slow corners that required some fine tuning for qualifying.
"The qualifying session was more or less to plan. Both drivers were finding time as the track improved, Valtteri getting a very good first lap on the board in final qualifying whereas Lewis had a mistake in Turn 3 which left him with everything to do on the final run.
"To see them separated by two hundredths with such a good gap behind shows that they were both really getting all the performance out of the car. The long run picture from Friday looks like it will be closer in the race than we saw in qualifying and the start tyre difference between us and Ferrari adds another dimension.
"We've got a long way to go to convert the front row into a one two but we'll be working hard tonight on a race plan to help us achieve that."
What We’re Saying
Valtteri: "It feels really good to get my first pole position of the season. I like this track a lot; last year I had a good weekend here and this year the weekend has started well again.
"It's a tricky circuit; there are only seven real corners on this track, but you can get them wrong very easily and lose a lot of time. For me it helped a lot that my first lap in Q3 was really good, so I could build on that in the second run.
"I will look at the data in detail to see where there is further room for improvement. The car felt really well-balanced today, so I can't imagine why it wouldn't feel that way tomorrow. We have had very mixed races lately, so I hope that I can get a good start and fight for the win.
"We have shown that we are quick here and have a really strong package, so we need a nice, clean race to turn our qualifying result into points.
"It's nice to have a good result, but this was only qualifying, and it's the race that counts."
Lewis: "This is a great result for the team, I'm really happy for us to have a one-two. Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a better job today. He went a completely different way with the set-up and maybe in hindsight I should have gone that direction as well.
"I'm really grateful for all the hard work from everyone at the factory, they've helped us to improve the car, move forward and lock out the front row - it's quite a privilege to be in that position.
"You can't really follow here, so there usually isn't a lot of overtaking but we will see if the three DRS zones will make a difference.
"Ferrari will start on the UltraSoft tyres whereas Red Bull and us will start on the SuperSofts so that will be interesting.
"There is a bit of a performance difference between those tyres, so keeping Sebastian behind at the start will be difficult, but I will give it everything I could. It's going to be close tomorrow, but we're in a good position for the race."
Toto: "It's a fantastic result to take the front row here in Spielberg with Valtteri just a few hundredths ahead of Lewis. We have been pushing hard in recent weeks to add performance to the car and, after the upgraded engine last week, it was really impressive to see the size of the aero upgrade here at the second race of the triple header.
"The hard work has paid off so far, with the car performing well and handling nicely around this circuit. Valtteri has been on good form all weekend and had a clean qualifying session, building up the performance level with each lap; Lewis also started strongly, after a tricky FP3, but made a mistake on his first lap in Q3.
"That meant it played out like a perfect thriller, with everything riding on the final runs - Lewis was quicker than the provisional pole time, but Valtteri was a little faster still and took his first pole of the season. It's a well-deserved result after some really bad luck in recent races.
"Now, we need to manage the start well to have a strong race. Like last weekend in France, we will start on the SuperSoft, Ferrari on the UltraSoft; this gave them the advantage from the start last weekend, and we need to be conscious of that tomorrow.
"But those considerations are for this evening, for a few moments now we can enjoy a strong team result - and the best possible starting point for what will be a hard-fought Grand Prix."