Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes is showing why it is a better team than Ferrari after making the right calls during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Rain started falling at the end of Q2 at Suzuka and a threat remained as the final part of qualifying got underway, with Ferrari opting to head out on intermediates as a result. However, the track was not wet enough, and both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were forced to pit while the rest of the field were already on supersofts and starting flying laps.
With the Ferraris missing the best of the conditions, Hamilton took pole position while Vettel ended up ninth (which became eighth after a penalty to Force India’s Esteban Ocon) and the championship leader says the final result highlights the difference between the two teams when making decisions under pressure.
“It definitely does (add to the title momentum),” Hamilton said. “I just saw it. It is so difficult out there to make the call but I think that’s another real big difference we’ve made this year. Every team has smart people but ultimately when it comes to being under pressure, making the right decisions and the right calls, that’s why we are the best team in the world and rightly so — they deserve that.”
Hamilton believes Mercedes produces its best performances when in high-pressure situations, having also secured pole position in difficult conditions in Belgium.
“We obviously hadn’t done any practice in the wet and it looked like it was going to be wet for Q3, so it’s definitely not a great feeling when you go into Q3 knowing that you’ve had the pace to be at the front and then know that mistakes can come in those tricky conditions, depending on how hard you push.
“But we’re all in the same boat. We remained in the garage; we said, ‘We should probably sit here and wait for someone else to go out first.’ The Ferraris pulled out of the garage on the inters and I honestly didn’t think it was the right decision.
“Naturally, I think, with experience that does come — (and) pretty much the same group of guys have all been together for quite some time — definitely at this point of the year, you would hope that you were more knowledgeable and able to be a little bit better at making decisions.
“So, I definitely think the team’s been able to be focused and still ‘on it’ but in a calm manner.”