Mercedes AMG team boss Toto Wolff says his team fully expect to have to battle very hard to have a chance of victory in Melbourne.
Heading to the season opener in Australia this weekend, it’s not quite clear where Mercedes lie in the pecking order. The reigning Champions were largely nondescript throughout pre-season testing, with Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas both saying they believed Ferrari to have a theoretical time advantage of a few tenths of a second per lap.
However, on the final day, both Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel & Merc’s Hamilton set almost identical fastest times of testing on the softest C5 compound – suggesting that the two cars may not be all that different in terms of outright pace at all. Either way, Toto Wolff says this weekend is not going to be easy for Mercedes: “Judging from the performance in Barcelona, it looks like we will have a proper fight on our hands in Melbourne.”
However, he says that even if Mercedes prove not to be the quickest in Australia, the season is one long development battle: “An F1 season is not just about who comes out of the blocks quickest; under new regulations like we have this year, it is about who is able to adapt best to the new rules and the new tyres and all the challenges that we will have to master during the year.”
“The most adaptable and agile team will come out on top this season. We have shown in the past that we are fast and flexible and that we can handle every curveball thrown at us.”
“Last year, we had to give it absolutely everything to come out on top. From what we have learned so far, this year will be even tougher. It will push us to our limits – and that’s an exciting prospect for every single one of us.”
“We’re ready for the fight and look forward to the crazy rollercoaster of a new F1 season.”