Mercedes are “happy” that Red Bull are also starting the Portuguese GP on the medium tyres, especially as the Brackley squad has track position.
Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Finn 0.007s faster than his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
It was Bottas’ 17th pole position and a much-needed one as already many have written him out of this year’s title fight.
Max Verstappen will line up P3 ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
All four drivers are, to Mercedes’ delight, starting on the medium tyres meaning they will all be facing the same issues at the start.
“We had wanted both cars on the medium tyre to start the race and on balance we’re happy to have Red Bull on the same start-tyre given that we have track position,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
“Our main concern will be the warm-up on that compound, the soft runners on the third row and behind will have a grip advantage that could last a lap or two so that may make things tricky.”
Row three on the Algarve grid will be Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon, both on the soft tyres.
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Toto Wolff is hoping for a good showing from his drivers, believing Mercedes has the better long-run pace around the Algarve circuit.
“In long runs we were good,” he said, “but the wind could make it exciting.
“We have two Mercedes with two Red Bulls just behind, good ingredients for a nice race!”
As for Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss concedes Sunday’s result could hinge on the start.
“Hopefully both cars can get a good launch and a clean run in the race to make life difficult for the two Mercedes in front,” said the Brit.
Hamilton heads into Sunday’s race leading the Drivers’ Championship by a single point ahead of Verstappen. Bottas is P5 with 14 points.