Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton’s remarkable pole lap for the Australian Grand Prix was rooted in the driver’s talent rather than in his car.

The four-time world champion kicked off his 2018 campaign with a barn burner performance, leaving his usual rivals in the dust and runner-up Kimi Raikkonen 0.664s adrift!

Wolff described the mesmerizing performance as perhaps a case of everything falling into place at the right time.

“The gap was down to Lewis Hamilton and putting in a lap with the grip level he didn’t seem to be able to extract before,” Wolff said.

“It was just that everything was in the sweet spot, I guess.

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“If you take the majority of the timed laps in qualifying, the Ferraris, Red Bulls and Mercedes were always very close to each other — within a tenth on some of the laps and then there is this one outlier at the end,” added the Austrian.

“So from my always pessimistic perspective we need to find out whether Lewis just got it right and it was his driving and he found so much more or whether the reality is the narrow gaps we have seen in the session. I don’t know.”

Queried about the ‘party mode’ which Mercedes exploits in qualifying to boost the engine’s performance over a single lap, Wolff confirmed the extra power was switched on in Q3, but on both of Hamilton’s laps.

“There is a party mode in the car but we switched the party mode on in Q3,” he said.

“There was no difference from the first run in Q3 to the second run in Q3, he just said that he had a great lap, pulled it all together and carried more speed through the apexes.”

While many expect Hamilton to race off in the distance tomorrow, Wolff stressed that the British driver would be on his own at the outset given the absence at the front of team mate Valtteri Bottas. A state of affairs which could impact the team’s strategy.

“If everything stays like it is, even if you are able to stay in the lead with two Ferraris right behind you, you are always at that risk of being overcut or undercut by one of the cars,” explained Wolff.

“One car doesn’t give you as many opportunities as two and taking into consideration two more Red Bulls, he [Hamilton] will be out there at the beginning on his own, trying to fight for it.

“Then obviously Valtteri makes it through the field — if that can happen, maybe he can be a supporter.”

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