Mercedes monopolized the front row of the Portuguese Grand Prix, the third round of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship. Valtteri Bottas took the pole position, beating seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton by just 7 thousandths.
A great show of strength for Mercedes that left both Red Bulls Racing behind, with Verstappen at four and Perez at five tenths of a second.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes' Team Principal and CEO commented on the qualifying during a press conference with Motorlat and other selected media.
"I'm not sure we had the fastest car, but we made a big step forward. Max made a good lap (1:18:2) that was deleted because of track limits, Vallteri did a very good lap in Q3.
"So I would say we caught up a lot in quali, we think we have a good racing car, so I think that our main turn around was working a lot, driving the simulator to try to understand where are the deficits and just finding a way to disect all the gaps," he stated.
Perhaps there was no better time for Bottas to get his hands on this pole position to give a great emotional response to his detractors after the bad weekend in Imola, which ended with the incident with George Russell.
For Mercedes it is a remarkable show of strength, especially looking at the gap with Red Bull.
Wolff gave his opinion on Valtteri Bottas' pole position, and reffered to the work that the mechanics were doing on the finn's car right before quali.
"I think he has the pace, he's really quick and it's all there. He managed to channel that in the right direction today and he's going to do that tomorrow. He's back in the fight and I really hope he stays there.
"In terms of what they were working on, I have no idea," he said laughing.
"I think it was the gearbox that they had to replace," he added.
Today was a Saturday that saw a change in the performance of many teams, the Austrian Team Principal also expressed himself on this matter.
"I think this year we are going to have very different races on every track, not only this weekend here in Portimao. When you look at the differences between, for example, a run with soft tyres and one with medium tyres there are many discrepancies between the drivers.
For example the gap between Esteban and Fernando, or the ones between Sebastian and Lance, Lando and Daniel; so I think it's just about finding the "sweet" spot in the set up and getting there," he said.
Then he gave explanations on the move, that many considered risky, that the team made to try to improve both laps for the last run in Q3, going out with mediums.
"I think we were on target to do a 17.7 with the mediums, and then we decided to see how the soft tyres would go in Q3.
The decision to go with the mediums was made because the soft tyres were slower than expected. In hindsight of if that was a wrong decision i have no idea, it is what it is, I think no one could have gone faster in the second run," he concluded