Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explained a number of factors that may have influenced Valtteri Bottas' enormous margin of victory over Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. Bottas took pole position by six tenths of a second from Hamilton, but the Silver Arrows locked out the front row again in Spain.
The constructors' champions have taken pole in each of the last seven editions of the Spanish GP, locking out the front row on all but one of those occasions, when Sebastian Vettel joined Hamilton on the front row in 2017.
However, it was a one-man fight for pole in Q3 as Bottas was in a league of his own, demolishing the lap record with a 1:15.406 on his first run that nobody – not even the Finn himself – could touch.
Wolff told Sky Sports: "It was a bit of an unfortunate session for Lewis because we couldn't charge the battery properly because he pitted in Q2 and therefore his first run in Q3 was a bit compromised with the traffic.
"So it started on the wrong foot, but Valtteri's in good form and I guess deserves to be on pole."
On the widespread failure to improve in Q3, Wolff explained: "It could have either been track temperature or a lot of dirt. You can see that in one of the corners there was massive gravel and I think you saw that the last sector was really down for everybody."
Hamilton has vowed that he will not be as friendly off the line as he was last time out in Baku and Wolff's thoughts naturally turned to 2016 when the Brit and Nico Rosberg locked out the front row, only to crash on the opening lap and wipe each other out.
"I think a bit nervous is probably the right state of mind," he said. "They know that it's important to be ahead tomorrow.
"Barcelona is a track where it's difficult to overtake, so I hope we won't be coming back to 2016.
"But these guys are in a totally different place with each other so I'm confident. We might have a little chat about that but they know exactly [what is expected]."
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