Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ front row start for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a “monumental result” amid its difficult weekend in Baku.
After Friday practice, the reigning world champions appeared to be in trouble as both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas languished outside the top 10.
However, Saturday was more positive outing for Mercedes, as Hamilton managed to capture second place on the grid, two-tenths down on pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton says Mercedes was not expecting such a high-starting position, despite the numerous changes it has made since practice concluded.
“That was okay, I think! We definitely weren’t expecting that, and this is such a monumental result for us because we’ve been struggling like you couldn’t believe all weekend,” Hamilton said.
“You can see it. We kept our composure and continued to have difficult conversations 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 your tail.
“It’s been so difficult, but the work overnight and especially between the two sessions was amazing from the team and I’m really proud of everyone and keeping positive.”
Mercedes was adamant on Friday that it possessed a stronger car in race trim compared to its single lap pace, leaving Hamilton confident that the team can be in the mix for victory on Sunday.
“It’s like the biggest challenge, I think, that we’ve had in a long time, trying to understand what the car really wants,” Hamilton said.
“She’s not been happy all weekend. It’s been a bit of a disaster. So for us to be up here and even for Valtteri to be in the top 10, that’s a massive leap and that’s just really down to great, great, great teamwork.
“Our race pace is a lot better than our single lap pace. We’re miles off in a single lap and a lot closer in race pace.
“We don’t understand why, but I’d like to think hopefully we’re in that same position so we can take the fight to these guys tomorrow.”
Bottas, in the sister Mercedes car, failed to complete his final lap in Q3 due to a red flag, meaning the Finn will line up in 10th on Sunday’s starting grid.