Toto Wolff is adamant Friday’s timesheets at the Sochi circuit was the result of form, and not Mercedes messing around with a “weird” programme.
Mercedes failed to top the timesheets in either of the Friday sessions with Ferrari claiming the 1-2 in the second session.
Sebastian Vettel set the pace with a 1:34.120 while Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes’ best placed driver in third, was 0.670s down.
It was a surprising result given that Mercedes have dominated at the Sochi Autodrom, securing three wins in three outings.
“Ferrari was extremely quick on one lap and the long run so a bit of work to do,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“We’ve said it before the race, it’s all new.
“We’ve been very good in the past but the cars have changed, they have much more downforce, the tyres are completely different and you cannot anticipate that it was going to continue and here we go.”
Pressed on whether Mercedes were trying anything ‘weird’ during the practice sessions, Wolff replied: “We have this discussion some times on the Ferrari where we were a second faster on the long runs and then it changed on the Saturday or Sunday.
“Everybody is doing a bit of a weird programme some times to find out where they are.”
As for the tyres, something Mercedes focused on during the post-Bahrain test, the motorsport boss concedes that the cooler temperatures in Sochi mean that work counts for very little this weekend.
He added: “We had overheating of the tyre and Bahrain was spot on as it was very hot but this is very different here, a smooth track and not very hot so there’s not a lot you can translate from Bahrain.”