Wolff: Favourite tag is OTT

Wednesday 19-March-2014 12:02

Although Nico Rosberg claimed an uncontested victory in Australia, Toto Wolff is adamant it's too early to call Merc the title favourites.

While Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position, it was his team-mate Rosberg who romped to the victory in Melbourne on Sunday, a comfortable 27 seconds ahead of second-placed Kevin Magnussen.

It was an impressive showing from the Brackley team, who also claimed the fastest lap of the grand prix.

But despite his team's hat-trick, Wolff reckons the results did not tell the full story.

"We have a margin performance-wise, but it's not an awful lot," said the Mercedes executive director.

"If you look at where Red Bull have come from after very little mileage in testing, that is quite a wake-up call for everybody.

"Look at where they were two or three weeks ago in Bahrain, so we need to be very careful, and we haven't seen Sebastian (Vettel) running with a reliable, fast car.

"You would expect him, with his experience, to go even faster so we have to keep on pushing.

"At Williams, if you look at Valtteri's (Bottas) pace before he hit the wall, and again afterwards, then I'm quite sure they would have ended up on the podium.

"So I don't think you can ever lean back and say 'this is a comfortable buffer'.

"In a regular season you have a two-second development curve, from the beginning to the end of the year. But with these new cars the development curve is going to be even steeper.

"Considering that, an advantage can quickly disappear in a couple of races, so if you look at Red Bull and their development curve then it has been quite phenomenal what they have achieved."

He added: "We've had the first race, we've won it and pace-wise we looked okay, but to talk about us being favourites would be OTT (over the top)."

But despite playing down the favourite tag, Wolff says winning the Championship is Mercedes' goal for this season.

Asked whether missing out on this year's title would be seen as a failure, he said: "Yes, absolutely.

"I don't see that we have a big advantage, to be honest, because you can see if you have a DNF then you lose points, and McLaren are leading the Constructors' Championship.

"Yes, we have a little bit of a margin and losing that would be something I'd consider as a failure."

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