Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018

Hamilton did use Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ in Q3, Wolff confirms

2018 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton did use Mercedes’ high power setting, dubbed ‘party mode’, for his final laps at the end of qualifying, Mercedes motorsport manager Toto Wolff confirmed.

In an exchanged with Sebastian Vettel during the post-qualifying press conference Hamilton suggested he hadn’t engaged a high-power setting.

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“I can assure you we don’t have a party mode,” said Hamilton. “I used the same mode from Q2 to end of Q3. So there was no extra mode that I engaged.”

“So what were you doing before?” Vettel asked. “I was waiting to put a good lap in, wipe the smile off your face,” replied Hamilton.

Speaking to media afterwards Wolff confirmed “there is a party mode in the car, we switched the party mode on in Q3.”

However Wolff credited Hamilton for finding the extra performance between his two runs in Q3.

“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, carried more speed through the apexes.”

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“The gap was down to Lewis Hamilton putting in a lap with the grip level that he didn’t seem to be able to extract before,” Wolff added. “Everything was in the sweet spot, I guess. There wasn’t any difference in modes.”

Hamilton’s commitment through the first corner, where his team mate Valtteri Bottas crashed earlier in the session, especially impressed Wolff.

“When I saw it it was almost like he wouldn’t make the corner with that speed. Yes that was where he gained a lot of time, also to his previous run apex turn one and turn two was a different league to the runs before.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Hamilton did use Mercedes’ ‘party mode’ in Q3, Wolff confirms”

  1. so, is there yet another engine mode or not? Was Q2 run with the same mode as Q1? If so then nothing is new here.

    1. Yeah it still seems ambiguous but it sounds like it’s just the same qualy mode as what Merc have had in previous seasons.

      1. Thankfully then a mode that can’t be sustained in the races, so we should see closer cars on race days. That’s what happened last year, at least until the second half, so it’s up to Ferrari and RBR to have raised their game for Sundays and keep raising it as development goes along. What else can they do?

        1. They might not be able to use it, but doesn’t mean they’ve not got one that’s just as good in the race

          Last year when they introduced their new PU at Spa, one of the upgrades was higher engine modes that can be used in the race.

          And is it not a bit disingenuous to assume that all their performance is solely down to their PU? Having the most powerful PU is one thing, but if you’ve not got the chassis then all that power is useless. Not saying you, but all we hear is how “Red Bull has the best chassis”.. What’s that based on? Because if we look at comparative times in the tight twisty bits, where the chassis is crucial, the Mercedes is an equal match and sometimes better than the RedBull.

          1. Agreed, Merc hast the best PU by a large margin and also best chassis (by a not so large one, but still). Which explains why an average driver gets hailed as one of the all-time greats, when all he has to do is beat VB who isn’t exactly Fangio either.

    2. Evans Armitage
      24th March 2018, 11:17

      “I can assure you we don’t have a party mode,” said Hamilton.

      Speaking to media afterwards Wolff confirmed “there is a party mode in the car, we switched the party mode on in Q3.”

      1. Evidently Hamilton was trying to sell us that his fantastic lap was due to his driving and not the extra boost.
        Got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    3. What Toto means is that Lewis is the party mode. If other teams want a party mode they’ll have to hire Lewis.

  2. So the guy lied, big deal, like he’s never done it before. To the stewards mostly.

    1. I love how Toto contradicts his racer as easy as he does. He can’t stand LH either and would give his right nut to have Sebastian on the team.

      1. 🤣🤣🤣

    2. Mmm, for someone who kept saying “I’m not a dishonest person, I’m not a liar” at the lie-gate in australia 2009 that’s a surprise!

    3. What kind of reasoning to excuse/accept a lie is that he’s done it before?!?

  3. “Everything was in the sweet spot, I guess. There wasn’t any difference in modes.”

    So there’s no special “final Q3 mode” then. Title implies otherwise.

    1. Go ask Bottas,he certainly “overcooked”his party mode as Sir Jackie Stewart would say it.

      1. He went straight to the after party mode……

        1. Bad after party😊

        2. unlike merc drivers, Kimi, goes straight to party on the side of the track :) he doesnt waste time…

    2. Yeah like I feel this article hasn’t cleared anything up. Is “party” mode just the qualy mode they’ve been running for ages or is it a new step above qualy mode? I feel like you can infer either at this point *shrugs*

      1. Maybe there is no Party Mode. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.

      2. Speaking to media afterwards Wolff confirmed “there is a party mode in the car, we switched the party mode on in Q3.”

        Seems incredibly clear to me. What is so hard to understand?

        1. @homerlovesbeer Exactly. Perhaps the confusion is that LH tried to mislead or play a head game with SV by making it sound like it was him, not a mode, that made for that fast lap. TW confirms the truth though, and there is a party mode they employed, but it was the same mode for both LH’s runs in Q3, a different mode from Q2. Silly of LH to try to deny it though, since SV obviously already knew the truth, which is the same truth as last year, as we all know, plain as day, and which is why SV asked, rhetorically, what was he doing before then…ie. what was his problem if with no mode change he was doing nothing outstanding in lap time until Q3. Lol LH might as well have tried to deny what tires he was on in spite of the world seeing the colour of them on their sidewalls.

          1. a different mode from Q2

            Except Hamilton said he was in the same mode in Q2 (which fits with previous seasons) and Toto only says party mode was switched on in Q3 … not that it wasn’t switched on in Q2 as well. So is it:

            1) Merc now have qualy mode in Q2 and party mode in Q3
            2) Party mode *is* their qualy mode and it was active in Q2 and Q3
            3) Party mode *is* their qualy mode and was only used in Q3

            2 is what Hamilton is implying, 3 is what Toto is implying but no one has specifically ruled out 1 … ergo ambiguous. Of course obviously you would just go to the option where Hamilton is knowingly lying and call it a day because that is your M.O.

          2. As long as whatever Mercedes are doing is within regulations, I see no problem in Hamilton ‘lying’ about what mode he’s using. Why should be tell rivals anything? But I think the point is, indeed, that Vettel was trying to detract from Hamilton’s performance and in so doing exposed his own weakness (which downplaying the performance of others always is) which Hamilton duly exploited. Job well done.

    3. What you’ve quoted is talking about the first run of Q3 vs the second run of Q3. His first run was poor and he made quite a few mistakes, but his second run was near perfect.
      However, they did go to the ‘party mode’ for Q3, so they used a lower mode in Q2, which again proves that his first run was poor as he did the same time in Q2 as his first run in Q3.
      Full quote from what you quoted:

      “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, carried more speed through the apexes.”

      “The gap was down to Lewis Hamilton putting in a lap with the grip level that he didn’t seem to be able to extract before,” Wolff added. “Everything was in the sweet spot, I guess. There wasn’t any difference in modes.”

      I guess it’s just reading what you want to read…

      1. Still clear to me. Ham used, according to hid own team boss, a different (better) mode in Q3 over Q2. Hams first run in Q3 wasn’t great but when he strung it together in Q3 for his second run, with the extra benefit of “party mode”, he maximised what was available.

        It’s very very easy to comprehend what was meant and hardly ambiguous.

        1. Yeah but sometimes you just gotta explain it to some of these people…

        2. Yeah and I don’t see a Q2 mode here, since LH’s lap times in Q2 we’re not especially notable. We’re just talking about a Q3 mode, like last year, with LH somehow thinking he could convince us otherwise. He’ll have to do better than that in the head games game. We all know you have it LH, confirmed by TW as if we needed him to, so why not just let the lap speak for itself, a team effort rather than try to take full credit for a special lap. It’s a special car with a special mode too.

          1. It’s entirely possible Hamilton meant that there was no difference in modes from his first run to his second run in Q3. He was not long out of the car and he is known for ‘fumbling’ what hes saying in those moments.

            Did any of the million comments on this subject consider that?

          2. if it is available, it is available to both drivers… a mode is not gonna let you go through corners faster unless you have active aero, which is banned and taken off mercs long time ago!

            he carried more speed into corners in his last run, and extra boost in the straights is added bonus but main time made in corners! ferrari can match merc straight line speeds any day! merc just has an overall better car in the chassis dept! we know what happened pre 14 season, they had massive straight line speed but couldnt maintain balance in corners and ate through tyres like you eat pop corns…

            people keep attributing ham’s performance to car all the time are just clearly jealous and dont have the balls to admit he is just that much better than them… with rosberg he still was able to eak out that kind of margins in the same car! rosberg himself admitted many time, when ham gets on with his car, he is unstoppable… pre f1, ham in the same spec series car beaten vettel, which vettel admitted himself ham was better than him during time… why is hard to admit he is still better than him?

      2. @hugh11 Yeah well summed up. I think to look for the silver lining, we all knew there would be a mode as there was last year, but I think we can say it’s not always him going to get him so far ahead. That was a special lap, and had he made even one of the mistakes he made in his first run of Q3 the gap wouldn’t appear as ominous. Ie. this does not represent what we will see at every venue by any stretch.

        1. Especially when you consider Vettel’s lap probably wasn’t great as he was behind Raikkonen, and Verstappen said he made a few mistakes too, the gap is a bit less, so it’s not as dreadful as I thought, but still. Hopefully the races will be the top 3 teams fighting it out for the win, will be incredible.

          1. if he ham flies into the horizon after a few laps, people will say it s engine modes… if vettel takes him it will be ” see engine mode off” merc are nothing… gimme a break… if ham wins, its his engine mode engaged, if he is behind, his engine mode is off, what kind of utter BS people moaning about? Yes merc is good, ham is just that much better as well, just admit the hard truth and move on… stop being sore… get on with it :)

          2. @mysticus I don’t see how hamilton is MUCH better than verstappen, vettel, alonso or ricciardo, the biggest difference is the car, even between mercedes and ferrari, the top 2 cars, there’s a bigger gap (usually) than between the top 2 drivers, that’s well known given drivers say it’s 80% car, 20% driver, if not 85-15.

            Then ofc he’s very good in qualifying and it’s more likely he’d have still got pole if any of the others were in a 3rd mercedes car, but he’s not that much better.

  4. Wonder why the Mercedes’ customers can’t get that increase in performance during qualifying, they certainly need it

    1. All customer teams get the same settings as the manufacturer. The manufacturer does not teach customers how to use them.

      1. They jave to give them the same hardware, software and engine mappings. It is not a question of teaching them how to use it. The question is why aren’t they using the same modes

        1. Good point, …. Differing strategies? ICE wear and tear? Gearbox ?, Driver preference/capability ? Chassis set-up and stress loads ?
          Pick one for me.

          1. It must be different strategies, they don’t like to start too high on the grid

          2. performance is one thing, aero is another… they have to be mated and in balance with one another… merc pre 14 had good engine still, but aero wasnt balanced, it was just fast in straights, but hard and undriveable in corners and eating tyres… maybe others has the same issue and hence cant get the power down as hard and efficiently without going through their tyres… not to mention bad aero cause bad fuel economy as well… it is not only one thing…you know coin has two faces…

    2. They use it in Q1 and Q2 because their car is not good as Mercedes. Force India deputy confirmed this last year!

    3. those teams themselves (well, Williams) say ‘you do not see a difference in Q3 for us because we use it from Q1 onwards’ @johnmilk

  5. Lewis has a way of getting into peoples’ heads. “Party Mode” is the same as “Qualy One”. Mercedes sheepishly smile at the antics and the gullables.

  6. I’d guess party mode sounds better than oil burn mode.

    1. even Formula E has an oil burn limit … the moving parts have to be lubricated, and regulated.

  7. Just when It seemed like Ferrari were sandbaging and are finally really close Hamilton engaged party mode.

    And what a lap it was. Usually Hamilton is very precise, car stable, planted, this time he was allover the place, dancing like a page out of Senna book and far faster than anyone else.

    It is hard to say how fast is Mercedes, but it is fait to say large chunk of that lap was Hamilton.

  8. Andrew Purkis
    24th March 2018, 12:50

    4 years on and the rest cant compete
    whatever merc has in their engine is not gona be replaced by the rest
    its pretty much game over till 2021

    1. Well, hopefully Ferrari and Merc will quit when Liberty tightens the screws and it will start a new era where most if not all teams are competitive.

      F1 is not so much the pinnacle of racing so much as the pinnacle of racing technology.

  9. So Hamilton outright lied saying he didn’t use a different mode in Q3.
    Interesting to see how it pans out tomorrow when Merc turns the wick back.
    Vettel and Kimi may have a good shot at it, unless they were using party mode:)

    1. Hamilton is under no obligation to tell his rivals anything. Especially if one of them is questioning what was clearly an excellent lap. Messing with Vettel’s head is a great tactic, it’s one of his weak spots as we saw last year. Hamilton quickly noticed that he’s brought the same sour, aggressive attitude this year, which will work in his and Mercedes favour if Vettel continues. Note that this probably comes mainly from being beaten so far this weekend by Raikkonen.

      1. I think this is all much more tongue in cheek than outright lying by LH or Vettel being rattled. Silly head games when it is plain as day that Mercedes has had an extra mode for several seasons now. LH knows that special lap was not just him alone finding all that extra pace, as does SV and all of us know that. No need to hide from it. The team continues to provide the car to beat. I’ll assume Ferrari and RBR have been attempting to reach a similar extra mode and aren’t just sitting on their hands in that regard. Mercedes seemingly still just have a superior pu such that that extra mode is also going to be stronger than what Ferrari and RBR can do.

      2. It’s messing with VET’s head ’cause he has something to mess with: Q3 mode. Then, I do not see any competition when 1 of the cars is at least 0.5sec per lap faster, so there’s nothing VET can do to imped HAM from winning the champ… again. He might win few races this year, but no real chance to stop that Mercedes.

        1. Not necessarily. Let’s now see how they all do when they are on equivalent component saving modes on Sundays. Let’s see who treats what tires better. Let’s see who is stronger at which tracks. The extra Q mode didn’t stop SV from leading for the first half of last year, so let’s see. Even if Merc doesn’t have diva days like last year, Ferrari and RBR may be closer relative to last year, on Sundays. We just don’t know, but it does seem that until they cranked it into party mode, there wasn’t a lot between them, and presumably Merc can’t use party mode during the race.

          Oh well…this is why they run all the races…much can happen and always does.

          1. Good points. The first race hasn’t been run yet and Merc/Hamilton has been awarded the championship by his/their fans:)

      3. “Messing with Vettel’s head is a great tactic, it’s one of his weak spots as we saw last year”

        Hamilton head is also easy to get into as we saw with Nico.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th March 2018, 20:12

      well you know what they say about liars.

      Liar, liar, pants on fire!

      I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Lewis is wearing pants tomorrow.

  10. Combination of party mode + blistering Hamilton pace = showstopping P1. Either of those things being absent, qualifying is a tighter affair.

    If Q2 was a truer reflection of comparative pace between the frontrunners, we’re in for a good race tomorrow.

    1. @newfangled +1 I’m not really a Hamilton fan but there’s no denying he’s a superb driver/qualifier. With that extra mode on the Merc, when Lewis puts the hammer down he’s almost unstoppable, at least in quali. Fingers crossed the races continue to be a closer run affair.

  11. We need Congressional hearings on the Mercedes party mode now.

    Vettel admitted that he messed up his last lap braking too late into 13. What a ridiculous fake controversy.

    1. finally, someone with common sense and wit….

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th March 2018, 20:09

      @dmw agreed but I think first we need to build a wall between Australia and New Zealand. There are some “bad kiwis” in Melbourne. The kiwis have definitely been running the kangaroos amuck!

  12. There is a party mode, it was turned on in Q3; and Toto means there’s no difference in modes between Q3 runs 1 and 2. But there IS a Q3 different party more.

  13. Hamilton playing mind games with Vettel. Good on you Lewis. Keep them wondering.

    1. No, TW clarified it for us. SV already knew the reality, so no mind games on him.

  14. I think this is being blown way out of proportion.

    The media have latched onto the term “party mode” based on something Lewis said before this weekend. He said something along the lines of that he was looking forward to trying the car with everything turned up, as they didn’t do that in testing. He called everything being turned up as being like a “party mode”. But it’s the same as when they just used to turn everything up in qualifying before.

    The media have latched onto this term, and for some reason people now think there is an extra special mode, that’s in some way different to the their normal qualifying mode.

    The trouble with Lewis, is he lives in the moment and has almost certainly forgotten he said the phrase “party mode”. So when asked ” did you use a party mode?”… He answers no, because it’s no different to the mode he would’ve use last year in Q3.

    Media, over egging everything again. Just look at the headlines about a Vettel-Hamilton spat already… The press conference didn’t really play out like they’d lead you to believe.

    1. Well explained. It is not like it is only Mercedes that have a special qualifying mode on their engine. If so, the would be the only team to improve their times from Q1, Q2, and Q3.

    2. @cdavman How is it ‘over egged’?

      My perspective on the story is as follows: The Q3 mode has been known about for some time and it’s an important part of Mercedes’ advantage which their rivals acknowledge. Hamilton has recently taken to referring to it as the ‘party mode’. Then in today’s press conference he said he didn’t have one. Then his team boss cleared up the confusion, which is what this article points out.

      I don’t think anything there is ‘over egged’. I think the level of egg is reasonable and appropriate.

      1. @keithcollantine my over egging statement was not specifically aimed at the article on this site, but media outlets in general who are running headings like:

        “Hamilton and Vettel clash in press conference”
        “Hamilton and Vettel in press conference spat”

        Both of which I would deem sensationalist or over egging it a bit. It was hardly a Baku repeat.

        You say Hamilton has taken to referring to this mode as party mode. Has he not only said that once?

        He merely stated previously that he was looking forward to running the car with the wick turned up, and then seemed to come up with the term “party mode”. People seem to have latched onto this as a new specific mode, which of course it is not. It is just a term he coined in a single press conference. He’s forgotten he called their usual qualifying mode that, so when asked do you have a party mode, he responds with, no – by which I think he’s meaning it is just in the mode they always run in Q3, not an extra mode.

        Just my take on it though.

        1. @cdavman

          People seem to have latched onto this as a new specific mode

          Fair enough if that’s your interpretation, but that’s not how I see it.

          As long as you’re not accusing me of any eggregious eggstrapolation or eggsaggeration.

          1. @keithcollantine Lol! Eggsactly! I thought your article was an accurate & reasoned eggsplanation of things. 🍳

  15. It was pretty clear to me that they turned the engine up at the end, which still takes away nothing from how Hamilton handles it, but from a spectator’s perspective it certainly takes away something from the pleasure of watching drivers pit their talents against one another.

    1. But EVERYONE turns up their engine at the end. Some engines just have more power in that “turned up” mode than others.


  16. petebaldwin (@)
    24th March 2018, 14:23

    The real question is why after so many seasons, the other manufacturers don’t have a quali mode? It’s been well known that Mercedes have this for long enough now for the others should have found their own solutions. If I was Vettel, I wouldn’t be moaning to Hamilton, I’d be asking my the engine guys in my team why they haven’t sorted this yet!

    1. Was thinking the same thing, how come after so many seasons the rest didn’t develop a super-duper engine mode for Q3.

    2. @petebaldwin To me the logical explanation is that the Mercedes’ engine peak power since 2014 has always been much higher than those of Ferrari/Renault. So in race trim Mercedes are always running to, say, 85% of the peak power, whereas the Ferrari/Renault can only turn it down to, e.g, 90%, and that then shows in qualifying when everyone cranks it up to the maximum. Which just goes to show that both Renault and Ferrari still have a lot of catching up to do within the scope of these engine regulations.

    3. The real question is why after so many seasons, the other manufacturers don’t have a quali mode?

      I dont know where you got this info from, but ALL engine manufacturers have “quali modes”. This was well discussed and explained last year.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        24th March 2018, 15:33

        Sure, I appreciate they all have qualifying setting but the other teams don’t seem to gain time quite like the Mercedes. Whatever they are doing, it is so much more effective than what the others have. They can really crank the engine up in Q3 every time and when Hamilton puts in a brilliant lap like today, they are untouchable.

  17. Whoever thought HAM is 0.6sec faster than VET (or a driver the same caliber) on pure skills is naive. Yeah, I think that HAM is the faster driver per lap, but like 0.2sec maximum. A 0.6sec difference at this level and between this kind of drivers had something to do with the machinery, no matter if it’s the engine, chassis, aero… or all of them.

    1. Indeed, 0.2 considering how similar to senna hamilton is in qualifying sounds more realistic.

  18. Why does everyone go on about this “special” Mercedes qualifying mode, (or “party mode” as it is now called), as it they are the only ones who have it?

    As confirmed by various teams last year, ALL the teams utilize different engine mode for the Q1, Q2, and Q3 runs, and ALL the engines have a special qualifying mode – usually turned up during Q3. If not, there would be no difference in Q2 and Q3 times.

    Of course, the Mercedes mode may give more power than the others, but that is quite different from the propaganda constantly swirling about that they are the only ones who have it.

    I cannot believe why Mercedes are allowing that rumor to perpetuate. It will be quite damaging in the long run. Pun intended.

  19. Pretty sure Ferrari and Renault have a “Qualifying mode” just not to the same output as Mercedes. With great power requires great skill, one crashes and one beats the result of the field by over half a second.

    Should be a good race tomorrow, I hope that Alonso can do one of his famous fast starts and make things awkward for the rest. And of course we’ll see how the chasing pack can give Lewis something to worry about all race.

  20. Engines/power units should only have two modes, ON and OFF. And if they want to save fuel they should use less throttle.

    1. So says who? History has shown us that Lewis is fast and it just shows more in qualifying. In equal machinery he has out qualified all of his teammates over his career, so what’s different now?

  21. So we now know Hamilton lies to the public in order to boost his own reputation.

    If I was the people doing the real work back at the factory and the ones really responsible for his success over the last 4 years I’d be pretty annoyed that he is trying to take all the credit.

    1. True, it’s odd, he kept talking about how he isn’t a liar or a dishonest person at liegate (australia 2009) and then this.

  22. I’d say bit of both, extra mode plus a great drive. The party mode does not help in the braking zone and transition to the apex which Hamilton did better than anyone from the onboards (from what you can now see on these). No doubr Hamilton has a history of being economical with the truth over the years to further his position but who wouldnt? He has paid all his VAT…..honest.

  23. Lewis isn’t as sly as he thinks he is. Thank you Toto for confirming that! I was already sure HAM was fibbing.

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