Mercedes are title ‘challengers’ not favourites

Date published: March 25 2019

Toto Wolff: Mercedes still just title challengers

Toto Wolff has said there has been no change in mindset at Mercedes despite a very comfortable win in Australia.

The reigning champions bagged maximum points at Albert Park while Ferrari were missing off the podium completely.

The result threw most pre-season expectations, with Ferrari as the team to beat, out of the window, but Wolff is reluctant to say Mercedes are anything other than mere title “challengers”.

Claiming the maximum 44 points race from the first race was a fantastic result, we could not have asked for a better start to the season,” Wolff said in his Bahrain preview.

“But the fight has only just begun: Ferrari will try everything they can to hit back and Melbourne showed that Red Bull will have something to say in the fight, too.

“We’ve seen the potential of Ferrari’s package in Barcelona, so we expect them to come back strong in Bahrain, with Red Bull in the mix as well.

“After the Barcelona test, we felt that we were the challengers. Whatever the Melbourne result says, our mindset hasn’t changed since then.

“One race doesn’t determine the pecking order for the rest of the season. We need to extract every bit of performance from our package and keep on working hard to improve the car over the weekend to be competitive.”

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Wolff also spoke about the difficulties the teams face whilst racing in the desert.

“We will see a very different race in Bahrain, where the weekend presents unique challenges, especially the change in conditions between the sessions,” he added.

“FP1 and FP3 take place in the middle of the day when both the air and the track can be very hot; FP2, Qualifying and the Race on the other hand are held in the evening in considerably cooler temperatures.

“These temperature swings make it very tricky to set up the car and find the right configuration for the sessions that really count.”

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