Toto Wolff hailed Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying lap as the Mercedes driver claimed pole position for Formula 1’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Mercedes had been braced for a challenging weekend at Marina Bay, despite claiming victory 12 months ago, having been firmly third-best over one lap at that event.
But while Ferrari led the way through practice Hamilton turned the tables in Q3 as he set a new track record to take the 79th pole position of his career.
It came after a Q1 session in which Mercedes’ decision to run Hamilton on Ultrasoft tyres left him down in 14th position – just two places clear of the drop zone.
“That was an incredible, horrible session, just a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish,” said Wolff.
“We nearly dropped out in Q1 after sticking to the Ultrasoft tyre, which was a nerve-wracking wait to make sure we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot at the first opportunity.
“Then Lewis produced one of the most incredible qualifying laps I have witnessed to take pole position.
“It's incredibly encouraging to see the step forward in understanding we have made, with Valtteri [Bottas] splitting the Ferraris and Lewis right at the sharp end of the grid by a healthy margin.”
Hamilton also expanded on his pole position lap, admitting he was “nervous” about the half-second deficit he faced to Ferrari post-practice, and asserting his Q3 stormer was close to perfect.
“This track is epic, it’s so difficult this track, it is the most challenging circuit for us in the year,” he said.
“It’s Monaco on steroids really, being that it's a lot longer, a lot more corners.
“I was a bit nervous going into qualifying because I didn't think we had the pace, we were half a second behind these guys and I was thinking ‘there is no way I’m going to be able to find half a second’.
“Then we obviously got into that last session and it was just about pulling all the little bits you found through practice and trying to see if you could put it into a perfect puzzle and 99.9 per cent of time it doesn’t go right, but that lap, honestly, I didn’t have a wheel spin, I didn't have a snap anywhere.
“The car was just underneath me and I managed to maximise on pretty much any corner. I can’t remember one where I thought I could do more.”