Jun.21 (GMM/Inautonews.com) “Very good, but strange,” said Niki Lauda, after Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for Sunday’s Austrian grand prix.
He was referring to the way Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both skidded off the track on their decisive qualifying laps, despite nonetheless powering to first and second at the Red Bull Ring.
But the F1 legend may also have been referring to Ferrari, who earlier in Austria appeared ready to challenge Mercedes for pole position and the grand prix win.
Kimi Raikkonen, fighting for his future at Maranello, was angry and exasperated when he was told on the radio that he had qualified seventeenth.
“How the fu*k is that possible?” the Finn charged.
And Sebastian Vettel, who qualified third, admitted he will have his usual pre-race song in his headphones in the buildup to Sunday’s race.
It’s “‘Help!’ From the Beatles,” he smiled. “I need help! They’re too quick so if you know how to fix it, please let us know.”
But Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team boss, said he suspects Ferrari will mount a challenge on Sunday, even though qualifying did not go to plan for the Italian team.
“The gap was greater than we expected,” he said.
“I was also surprised by Ferrari’s strategy, where we decided to warm our tyres over two laps, they immediately went on their fast laps.
“I cannot tell if that’s the reason for the gap, but none of us has any illusion that in the long runs, they have been faster than us here.
“I have to admit,” Wolff added, “I am not as confident as I was before the last grands prix.”