It was a solid qualifying day for Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton securing pole and Valtteri Bottas right behind him in second. However, there is a bit of a dark cloud over the team’s strong results since Hamilton will have to take a 10-place grid penalty for his engine update and start from 11th position for the Turkish GP. With both the drivers’ championship and constructors’ championship on the line, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is relying on strategy and the Brit's aptitude for overtaking to move through the midfield successfully on race day.
Wolff discussed both the positive and negative aspects after qualifying and reiterated how confident he and the team are to have Hamilton behind the wheel.
"The big positive today is that the car is very quick and Valtteri starts on pole tomorrow, but the negative is that it would have otherwise been a weekend with a front-row lockout for the team.”
“Progress will be tough for Lewis with all cars in front of him other than Tsunoda starting on the medium tyre and yesterday in the long-run we could see that it's difficult to follow here.”
“But Lewis has made phenomenal recovery drives time and time again, and there's no one else you'd want in the car.”
While Mercedes has been known to use team orders in the past to help achieve successful race results and ultimately more points for the drivers’ and constructors’ championship Wolff is focused on the big picture for the team as a whole, which means a race win for Bottas at the Turkish GP.
“Valtteri has been strong all weekend and he has got a great opportunity tomorrow. He clearly wants the win and it will also help Lewis so he'll be going all-out for it," stated Wolff
"Valtteri's going to race his race tomorrow," Wolff said. "This is about the race win and Valtteri's win, and the team's win, and we're not going to do any bunching up."
Ultimately, it will come down to strategy for the Mercedes team if they want to achieve a solid result for both drivers for the Turkish GP. In addition to Wolff’s confidence in Hamilton’s overtaking abilities, there are other factors that the team has looked into such as traffic simulations to help them prepare for the Turkish GP.
“Strategy will play a big part and we'll be there to support him,” Wolff said.
"But it is what it is, he can only try to do the utmost, and I wouldn't want to have any other driver in the car when it is about overtaking and going through the field than Lewis."
"Having said that, yesterday we simulated some of these situations, and it's very difficult to follow in traffic, a phenomenon we have seen all year, but could be something that we need to fight tomorrow.
"There will not be many options left than to try with strategy, and obviously hope that the front train is not disappearing into the distance."
Wolff remains optimistic for the race and also for the rest of the season. He also believes that the car is in a “much better place” now than it was earlier in the year.
"The regulations that came in at the beginning of the year created a situation where you run the car where we haven't been running in the last few years," Wolff said.
"The more we run it, the more we drive, the more we could simulate situations, the better we have performed.
"So today we would have been first and second on the road with a solid margin, but unfortunately Lewis has to go back.
"The nice part of the day is that we have pace, and there is six plus one races to go, and where the car is today is definitely in a better place than it was in the spring and the summer."