It was a glorious Saturday for Mercedes as the German team secured a front-row lockout for tomorrow's Hungarian GP. Lewis Hamilton got pole position, the third one in 2021 for the reigning World Champion and his eight at Hungaroring, tying the record for most poles in a circuit, with his teammate Valtteri Bottas in P2 three tenths behind.
Team Principal Toto Wolff in the post-qualifying press session was asked if the upgrades brought at Silverstone played a role in the improved performances:
"I think the upgrade in sheer downforce wasn't huge but the impact it had on the car's performance was good and positive, the correlation was spot on. I think we've learned a little bit more how the car performs, setup wise too. It's great to see a consolidation of that performance here in Hungary."
Tomorrow both drivers will start the race on medium tyres, while championship leader Max Verstappen in P3 and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez will be on softs. Wolff isn't fazed by the difference in strategy, and reckons that the race tomorrow will be "entertaining" with many different strategies available for the two teams:
"I never worry. I think that we have a disadvantage off the line, so we need to be clever with the start and perform well, and then if we ahead with two cars we have more strategy variants that we can play, but if it is a two-stop then it doesn't make a great difference whether you start on the softs or on the mediums."
"They have two drivers that are right there too, so it isn't an advantage for us [to have] Lewis and Valtteri in top four because they have two. So it's a lot of ingredients for great entertainment tomorrow."
After Hamilton secured the pole position and parked his car in parc ferme, the British driver was hit by loud boos apparently coming from a grandstand of fans rooting for main title competitor Verstappen. While he brushed it off saying that "it just fuels me", Wolff and Bottas were far from happy with it.
Wolff said that even though such a "trivial" reaction is common in sports, especially when high stakes are involved, as seen with football rivalries, he doesn't approve of it, but acknowledges that it stems from the Silverstone crash and its dramatic aftermaths
"I think that booing has no place in sport, but you need to also recognise that the emotions have been very high in the last two weeks, and that the grandstands are packed with Dutch fans."
"Nobody likes it, people that have done sports competitively will never understand why there is, but you hear it at the football stadiums and you hear it at the grandstands."