Lewis Hamilton describes Mercedes’ Azerbaijan GP turnaround to front row start as ‘monumental’

Lewis Hamilton described the turnaround that saw Mercedes return to the front row of the grid at the Azerbaijan GP as a “monumental result”.

Two weeks after struggling in Monaco and losing the world championship leads to Red Bull, Mercedes appeared in danger of enduring an even greater nightmare in Baku after finishing outside the top 10 in Friday practice and admitting they were well off the pace of the front runners on a single lap.

With Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking different rear-wing strategies for qualifying as the drivers and team searched for a set-up breakthrough, the seven-time champion emerged from a qualifying hour heavily disrupted by crashes in a surprise second place – one spot ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

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Describing the weekend up to qualifying as “a bit of a disaster”, Hamilton said Mercedes had faced the “biggest challenge in a long time” to engineer some more speed out of the W12.

“We definitely weren’t expecting that,” said Hamilton, who had lapped 0.232s behind Ferrari polesitter Charles Leclerc at the start of Q3 before accidents for Yuki Tsunoda and Carlos Sainz brought out red flags to scupper the final attempts.

“This is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend. You can see it.

“We kept our composure. We’ve continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer. We’ve moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it’s been so difficult.”

The Comeback 💪🏾
That’s P2 secured. Really proud of the team for all of their hard work, they really pulled through on this one! #Teamwork #AzerbaijanGP pic.twitter.com/zlAT7LIrfz

Hamilton praised the effort Mercedes’ workforce had put in to get to the bottom of the problems with the W12 and find improvements.

“The work overnight and particularly between the sessions was amazing from the team and really proud of everyone for keeping positive. To be up there and so close to these guys is a great start.”

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, the seven-time champion said of the W12: “It was really terrible to drive for the past couple of days – and we know this car is not a terrible car.

“But we also know we are not the strongest right now, so for us to turn it around and to be in the top three competing so closely with the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, who have been just destroying everyone last weekend and this weekend, is just [great to be] in the fight.

“We have got a race tomorrow and we are in a position to get some good points. I’m just excited.”

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