Lewis Hamilton admits his pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix takes on added importance after Mercedes has struggled compared to Ferrari in recent races.
After dominating qualifying at the first race of the season, Hamilton had seen Sebastian Vettel then take three pole positions in a row as Mercedes failed to win any of the opening three rounds. After victory last time out in Baku, Hamilton then took pole position in a tight fight against teammate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel in Barcelona, and says the front-row lockout is reward for his team’s attempts to respond to Ferrari’s pace.
“Well, we’ve had one pole,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think we’ve really had great qualifying sessions after that, so it was important for me to get back into a good position with qualifying, as it’s usually a strength of mine. So definitely important and happy, especially considering I had such a busy week coming into this weekend to have this performance, I’m very happy with that.
“For the team it’s been a struggle. I’m sure there have been a lot of people with nerves over the past few races, just not really understanding – constantly learning but feeling that we’re not learning quick enough. So to come here and get the 1-2 in qualifying is a true show of all the hard work that everyone is doing.”
Adding that he is much happier with the handling of his car this weekend, Hamilton had praise for Mercedes’ mindset as well as the performance shown by Bottas as the pair were separated by just 0.04s.
“The team have been working so hard, so a huge thank you to everyone back at the factory and here for continuing to try to understand, to be open-minded. It’s easy for us adults to get stuck in our ways and they have definitely let loose and [stayed] open-minded to think of new ways to try to improve, which is great, and that’s what it takes to be a winning team.
“It was a very close qualifying; you could see all weekend it was close. The Ferraris were clearly sandbagging, just because they could. They’ve always had a quick car. But it took everything from us to get a result and to get a 1-2 in qualifying is fantastic for the team. I know everyone will be very, very happy.
“It was very, very close. Valtteri’s been driving exceptionally well. I was just saying they should call him the ‘Flying Finn’; he’s definitely taken that role I think. We’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow; it’s going to be a tough race, but it’s definitely a good way to start the weekend.”