Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas say they warned rivals the power unit technical directive would not peg them back after locking out the front row at the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton took his 94th pole position by less than 0.1s over teammate Bottas, and the gap to Carlos Sainz in third place was over 0.8s. Red Bull Racing starts from fifth with Max Verstappen and ninth with Alex Albon, and Hamilton says he had already pointed out the directive that forces manufacturers to run the same power unit mode from the start of qualifying through to the end of the race would work in Mercedes’ favor.
“I don’t come into the weekends with the expectation of how much of a gap we are going to have,” Hamilton said. “We did say last week, when they brought in this rule to slow us down, that it wasn’t going to make a difference but we have a great, great car and we are better in other areas.
“Just an incredible performance this weekend. I think this is definitely the best we’ve ever been here. We’ve really got the car in a sweet spot this weekend. So, just a huge thank you to all the guys back at the factory for the simulations and working on getting parts to these races and continuously stepping forwards. It’s such a hard thing to do and I think people take it for granted because we do it weekend in, weekend out.”
Bottas specifically referenced Red Bull when talking about his own chances, saying he is hopeful of fighting for victory but believing it’s unlikely Verstappen can do so from row three.
“As soon as you’re starting here in the first or second row, you always have a chance,” Bottas said. “There will be opportunities and I think the pace I had in the long runs, that we had as a team, is looking strong. Also with the engine regulation change for the modes, it’s going to be even better for us in the race than before. So hopefully that will be good.
“Car felt good. Engine felt good and, like I said before, it should be even better in the race. So, not sure how happy Red Bull is now with this engine change.”