Today is the Mercedes F1 Team's 75th front-row lockout in the modern age. Both drivers, as well as the two Red Bulls in the second row, will start tomorrow on the Medium compound tyre.
It was a challenging session for Mercedes as it wasn't clear if the medium or soft would be the quicker tyre in the end, and the team had to figure out if a warm-up lap was better than going straight for lap one.
Mercedes chose to hedge their bets by running both compounds in final qualifying as no one had come close to matching Lewis's time on the medium from Q2.
As it turned out, the track slowed significantly in the final minutes, so tyre selection was unimportant; instead, we were glad that we'd done enough to secure the front row. We wanted both cars to start the race on the medium tyre, but given our track location, we're happy to have Red Bull on the same start-tyre.
In the first two races, qualifying was always a weakness for the team, but now they're back on top.
According to Hamilton, "Not that enjoyable of a session because I couldn’t get that many good laps in but I’m not too frustrated, I only did one good lap and that was in Q2. Of course I’d have loved to put more good laps together but it was tricky out there. It’s a slippery track, the tyres are hard so you need to do multiple laps to put temperature into them and it’s quite a peaky balance - it works for a second and then falls away very quickly, it’s on a knife-edge."
He continued, "It wasn’t meant to be but Valtteri did a great job today and I’m just focused on the race. Now is the time to understand strategy for tomorrow and work out where the opportunities lie."