Toto Wolff has said while Mercedes are highly motivated to right the wrongs of Monaco, the Baku track may not be the place to do it for them.
Mercedes lost control at the top of both World Championship standings after a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix which resulted in a dreaded DNF for Valtteri Bottas and a rather lowly P7 finish for Lewis Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen cantered to victory in Monte Carlo to leapfrog Hamilton by four points in the Drivers’ Championship and Sergio Perez’s rock-solid P4 allowed Red Bull to nudge one point ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’.
Reflecting on a rare off weekend for Mercedes, Wolff said he saw a similar response in the factory to when the Silver Arrows realised they had some catching up do after the pre-season testing in Bahrain.
And, while the reigning World Champions are “more fired-up than ever to bounce back”, Wolff fears Baku could pose more problems for the W12.
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“Weekends like Monaco are the ones that keep you coming back for more,” Wolff said in Mercedes’ Baku preview.
“Nothing comes easy in this sport, and that’s why we love it. We know that if you are not at, or close to, 100% then it will bite you.
“On Monday morning I saw the same energy as when we returned from the Bahrain test and that pleases me.
“We dissected the weekend, asked hard questions of ourselves, and learned some crucial lessons. I wish we could have been back racing last weekend.
“While it’s a very different street circuit to Monaco, we expect it to be another tricky one for us, not particularly suiting the characteristics and traits of the W12.
“Red Bull will be strong again, while both Ferrari and McLaren have made great progress recently.
“A key focus for us has to be exploiting the opportunities available to us on those outlier tracks which aren’t suited to our car – when the points are there, we need to grab them.
“There will be swings back and forth in this fight which is exciting for the sport and exciting for us.
“We’re expecting another challenge on the city streets and after the results of the last race, we’re more determined and fired-up than ever to bounce back in Baku.”
It remains to be seen if Wolff’s fears are genuine or whether this is another attempt to play mind games with Red Bull…