'Feels good to be on pole again' says Wolff, after Bottas gives Mercedes P1 in Texas
Ferrari’s streak of six pole positions since the summer break was broken by none other than Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in Austin on Saturday, and team boss Toto Wolff couldn’t contain his relief.
“It’s feels good to be on pole again,” said Wolff after qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Texas. “I’ve missed that… and it was so tight – you can see there were a few cars within a few tenths. I’m really happy.”
Understandably so, as Mercedes’ last pole position came from Lewis Hamilton way back at July's German Grand Prix. Here in Austin, Bottas secured pole by just 0.012s – the smallest margin ever at COTA – over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen only 0.067s off top spot.
The Finn was thrilled as he noted how much work he'd had to do overnight to prepare for Saturday’s running. And it led to a first flying effort of 1m 32.029s in Q3 – a new track record.
“Yeah, really happy about it, it was a nice lap at the beginning of Q3 and you rarely get those kind of laps; on a track like this it’s a good feeling.
“Yesterday was tricky. There was many things not quite right with my car, but we managed to find all the reasons. It worked this morning with finding all the details and it was good to find all the places I really focus on.
“I knew how to put it together, but to put it together was a nice feeling, to get it done in Q3."
Although Bottas’s first effort gave him pole, he admitted that it was a relief that nobody eclipsed it on their second run in Q3. It seemed that there was no extra time to be found for Verstappen nor Vettel.
“The last [lap, there] was a bit less grip overall. In Sector 1 I was already losing like one or two-tenths," he said. “I’m glad nobody could improve at the end - I couldn’t either, so happy days."
With Bottas's first P1 start in the USA, he delivered Mercedes' sixth consecutive US GP pole. But he’ll have a job to do on Sunday if he's to clinch victory, as he’s only won three of his previous 10 races starting from the front of the grid.