Mercedes: "We don't expect pole position fight to be easy"

06-09-2019 18:13
by Matt Gretton
General
Mercedes: We don't expect pole position fight to be easy

Charles Leclerc managed to complete a Friday practice double a week after his maiden Formula 1 victory. His single-lap pace looks to be strong again around Monza as he looks to fight off Mercedes for a second week straight. Mercedes themselves believe it'll be tricky to battle for P1 on Saturday afternoon. 

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completed a combined 88 laps. Good going considering most of FP1 was mostly on a wet track. Andrew Shovlin explained how the Silver Arrows didn't want to take risks in the testing conditions. 

"It's been a tricky day with the rain. We didn't want to take risks with the car in the wet so stayed in the garage for most of the first session. In the second session we were late going onto the Softs so missed the best window with the track. Apart from missing some running, the day has been pretty good," the Mercedes man said.

"We were a long way off the Ferraris in Qualifying last week and it looks a bit better here although the same trend is evident where we are losing on the straights and gaining in the corners. It's difficult to know where we stand on the long runs as rain and traffic were affecting the laps but the drivers are both happy with the balance and the tyres seem to be working well."

Both Ferrari and Max Verstappen will have a new-spec engine to compete with this weekend. Shovlin acknowledges the upgrades their rivals have made and therefore believes it'll be a challenge to get pole position. 

"Red Bull and Ferrari have both made significant gains in single-lap pace over the last few races and now qualifying is often our most difficult session. We don't expect tomorrow to be any different; hopefully we'll be able to challenge for pole but we don't expect it to be easy," Shovlin concluded. 

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