F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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The Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has played down Mercedes pace ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite pole position for Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton was just 0.035s ahead of Perez, who out-qualified his team-mate Max Verstappen on just his second race weekend in the Red Bull.
Perez starts on the front row for the first time in his 192-race F1 career – however he insisted “I should have been on pole today.”
And Wolff seemed to admit Red Bull should’ve out-qualified them, saying: “The pole was a surprise because at the moment we do not have the quickest car.
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“It was so close and Max, without the mistake, would have been on pole. But the loss compared to last year is just enormous – we were six tenths ahead and now we are two tenths behind.
“So, we need to scratch our heads and just try to find the performance. It’s a quicker car than in Bahrain, I think we have got the car in a better balance window, that’s the main reason for the improvement.
“We had some drivability concerns in Bahrain and we are sorting that out – slowly we are getting there.
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“It’s a big advantage for them because not only two Red Bulls behind but Perez is starting on softs so they can do two different strategies. Valtteri has to make his way through the soft runners, which he will and can, but I think we are a little bit on the backfoot.”
The boss of Red Bull Christian Horner came into the weekend saying it would be quite the task to beat the might of Mercedes this weekend.
However, he remained positive ahead of the race.
“It was a great Team performance today with our best qualifying result in Italy since 2013,” Horner stated.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to see both drivers up there and in with a shot at pole, especially in a nail-biting session where the top three were separated by less than a tenth. Sergio is really finding his feet and today marks his best F1 starting grid position.
“With minimal seat time he’s doing a great job and settling into the Team very well. We’re in a good position and with both drivers on alternative strategies, we’ve got a few options which we’ll work on this evening to bring home the best possible result tomorrow. It should make for an exciting Grand Prix.”
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