Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton says 'best team' Mercedes are handling pressure better than Ferrari
By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway at Suzuka
Last Updated: 04/12/18 5:23pm
Lewis Hamilton has hailed Mercedes as the "best team in the world" after utilising the "perfect" strategy to seal pole position at the Japanese GP.
The championship leader also believes his team's recent performances have put huge pressure on Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, who made critical mistakes in a pulsating qualifying session and will start Sunday's race from eighth.
Hamilton secured an impressive pole after both he and Mercedes masterfully navigated the changing conditions in Q3, while Ferrari fumbled tyre choices before Vettel ran wide on his crucial flying lap.
My 80th Pole! I’m taken back by this achievement and can’t thank all of my fans for the support you give me each race weekend. Always so grateful of the incredible work by everyone in our team for making this possible. It’s an honour to race for Mercedes @MercedesAMGF1 #pole pic.twitter.com/EXYKEIbBji— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 6, 2018
"Ferrari have taken a step back for whatever reason but we've not let that deter us from improving the car and stepping forward," an elated Hamilton told Sky F1 after his 80th F1 pole.
"Naturally it's great when you see us do pretty much a perfect job. it's hard for others to compete with that when you have the strength that we're showing."
Hamilton has won five of the last six races to move 50 points clear of Vettel in the championship, and Saturday was another example of the relentless Mercedes providing him with the optimum car and strategy.
Though rain was falling at the start of Q3, Mercedes felt the track was dry enough for supersoft tyres and opted to delay Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas' exit from the garage to benefit from the best conditions.
Ferrari, on the other hand, incorrectly sent both drivers out on intermediates, while Vettel then ran wide on his sole dry lap on slicks as he suffered his worst qualifying of the season.
"The Ferraris pulled out of the garage on the inters and I honestly didn't think it was the right decision," stated Hamilton.
"Every team has smart people but ultimately, when it comes to being under pressure, making the right decisions, the right calls, that's why we are the best team in the world.
"The last six years with this team has been incredible and I'm just so grateful for everyone's hard work which has enabled me to go out and exploit my own abilities."
Hamilton continued on Sky F1: "It's incredibly rewarding. Collectively as a team we're performing the best that I think we've ever performed.
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"Even if we have a hint of pressure from wherever it may be, we're able to sit back and still deliver strong performance like today.
"The guys back in the factory, the guys here, brought their 'A-games' this weekend."