Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was in full praise of Lewis Hamilton following qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The British driver produced a strong lap to claim the 70th pole of his career, and his ninth of the 2017 season.
Hamilton will start alongside the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen tomorrow, as the Finn missed out on pole by the smallest of margins. Mercedes struggled during the first day of running yesterday, and even today, Wolff revealed that the car wasn't performing to its optimum.
"A blistering lap," he said. "He put it all together. But we are left with some confusion because our car wasn't good. We didn't put our tyres in the right window the whole weekend and when the temperatures dropped and the cloud came over, the car was very quick so we need some answers.
"Maybe we shouldn't underestimate the driving factor. These cars are tricky to drive and ramping it up until this final section is important and he has been improving his driving all through the weekend like he did in Singapore.
"We need to put the dots together to try and understand. I don't think it's the upgrade issue [for Valtteri]. I think we have a solid aero upgrade but we weren't sure. After P3 we decided that we didn't want to put Lewis on a completely new setup because this would be tricky. I think we are going to run it in Japan, all the data says it is good."
Hamilton himself admits he's surprised with the pace that his Silver Arrow showed during qualifying, and claims that he feels sorry for championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who will start the Grand Prix from last place after running into an engine issue.
"We had no idea what was going to happen today," said Hamilton. "It's a real surprise to be up here with these guys today but I'm really grateful. I'm sorry for what happened to Sebastian because obviously he was very quick through practice but somehow we turned it round."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing