Toto Wolff’s unusual plan to give Lewis Hamilton and George Russell a competitive car

George Russell snatched his maiden pole position in Budapest on Saturday.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was in a very jovial mood after qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix having watched George Russell take pole.

The Silver Arrows went one and two in the first session of qualifying, but had to fight to get out of Q2, so one wondered where their pace actually was heading into the top 10 shootout.

The later drivers could set their laps, the better due to the track evolution, and this was part of the reason Sergio Perez found himself eliminated from Q2 in 11th place.

Sir Lewis Hamilton suffered DRS issues which saw him qualify seventh in one Mercedes, while Max Verstappen had power troubles in his Red Bull as he ended up all the way down in 10th.

READ: George Russell reveals FIA survey as he claims most drivers in favour of controversial rule change

It looked as though Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were about to take a Ferrari one-two, but in came Russell at the last to snatch his maiden pole in a shock turn of events.

Wolff headed over to Sky Sports for a chat after the session, and was glad to be given the right to speak to them after a good performance.

“First of all, I’m glad that I’m invited again here,” he joked.

“You only take the winners so you are opportunistic guys.”

Article continues below

The Austrian then revealed an elaborate plan to try and repeat the performance Russell put in on Saturday.

“Yeah, we just said, we need to write down everything we did this morning, including the food and the drinks we drank in order to be able to replicate [it],” added a smiling Wolff.

READ: George Russell says Mercedes ‘on the limit’ as he pays tribute to Sebastian Vettel

More banter was to come from the 50-year-old, who explained that the pace of the W13 has always been there; they just wanted to wait until the summer break to show it.

“We knew it because we wanted to play it easy until the summer break and then interfere again,” quipped Wolff.

“No, the truth is we saw it [pole] from the beginning of qualifying that our tyres were in the right window, the car was balanced and everything kind of came together.

“And then the two drove it really well, gained confidence from round to round that the grip was actually there and this was the result.”

After drama for Hamilton and the Red Bulls, Lando Norris took fourth for McLaren, ahead of the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso.

Norris’ team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, ended up ninth behind the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas.