Mercedes principal Toto Wolff thinks Ferrari haven’t really recovered from the reliability issues that cost Charles Leclerc the win in Bahrain.
The Scuderia appeared to have a sizeable pace advantage over their rivals as pre-season testing gave way to the first race of 2019 in Australia.
However, a set-up issue cost them down under, before Charles Leclerc would have claimed victory in Bahrain if it wasn’t for engine issues late on which dropped him to P3.
Mercedes meanwhile had claimed victory in every race this season before Max Verstappen ended that run at the Red Bull Ring, and Wolff feels that Bahrain sticks out among the Ferrari setbacks as particularly costly.
“I think somehow the momentum that Ferrari had in Bahrain was lost because they had the quickest car and they should have won the race with Leclerc,” Wolff told Autosport.
“Charles was the quickest guy in Baku, before his crash in qualifying, and Sebastian was in the lead in Montreal before the penalty came. So it could easily have been very different based on pure performance.”
Accusations had been made that Mercedes were sandbagging in pre-season after their deficit to Ferrari vanished come the opening race, but Wolff insists it was upgrades that brought his team back into contention.
“I was worried,” Wolff admitted. “I wasn’t worried about the first test, because in the first test we saw a very impressive Ferrari.
“When you stood out [by the] track, you could see the braking into Turn 1, and Turns 2 and 3. They were mighty.
“You could see on the track that the Ferrari was really good, but then I knew that we would bring an upgrade package that would completely change the car.
“And we put it on the track on the Monday and it didn’t correlate, and on the second day, it didn’t correlate.
“We thought we had a real problem there. But it all changed on the third day when the car somehow came together.
“And on the fourth day when we were equalling Ferrari’s time, it was the first time in the eight days of testing we had the feeling that there is a path that seems sensible.”