Hamilton secured the 80th pole position of his career at the Japanese Grand Prix after a tricky Q3 session where teams were having to balance out which tyres to run in the changeable conditions.
In the end, Ferrari’s wrong decision to run intermediates at the start of the session meant its drivers were not out on track when it was driest – and Hamilton’s main title rival Sebastian Vettel could qualify no better than ninth.
Speaking about the fact that Mercedes had again got things right, Hamilton said: “It is so difficult out there to make the right call, and that is another real big difference that we as a team have made this year.
“Every team has smart people but ultimately when it comes to being under pressure in making the right decisions and the right calls, that is why we are the best team in the world and rightly so – they are the best in the world.”
Hamilton also says he personally doubted that Ferrari had made the right call in going for the intermediates at the start of Q3.
“The Ferraris pulled out the garage on the inters and I honestly didn’t think it was the right decision. Obviously we made the right decision as a team.”
Bottas too was full of praise for how Mercedes had dealt with the pressure, and believed it was one of the strongest performances he had seen from the team.
“I think having been in this team for less than two seasons, from what I have seen, it was one of the best days as a group,” he said.
He added: “We should be really proud of what we did, with the car, and how we worked today. Every single decision was right and everyone was calm.
“It might have looked weird from the outside. It was a hectic session and so on, but it was calm inside. But we stuck to our plan and made the right choices.”
Vettel said after the session that it was clear Ferrari had the pace to do much better in Japan.
“I think the first run was sort of okay,” he said. “I had a mistake in Spoon so lost most of the time there.
“Obviously the second run we didn’t make it out in time because the rain came and we were too late, of course.
“Obviously it’s not the position we deserve to be in. I think we have better speed than ninth but we’ll start there and see how it goes. Anything can happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day.”