Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Technical Director James Allison predicts that both Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will provide stern tests to the Silver Arrows over the course of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
Mercedes topped both Free Practice sessions on Friday, courtesy of the trouble-free Lewis Hamilton, but saw their half a second lead shrink to just one-tenth of a second between first and second practice. Valtteri Bottas suffered minor fuel system and suspension problems in the morning which delayed his progress, whilst Max Verstappen displaced him from second on the timing screens by less than a tenth in the afternoon.
Allison was pleased with the work carried out by the team on a day full of unknowns.
“It was a good day,” the former Ferrari man said.
“We had a programme of finding out how the tyres behaved and we’ve been able to work through that without any drama.
“It’s brilliant as always after the winter testing to actually be racing again and to be finding out for real where our car stands.”
Allison concluded by saying that Mercedes understand that they are in for an early season fight with Red Bull and Ferrari, and insisted that the four-times World Drivers’ and Constructors’ champions are ready for the challenge.
“If we were in any doubt before, we’re in no doubt now that it’s going to be a tight weekend with both Ferrari and Red Bull.
“But we’re looking forward to the fight tomorrow and again on Sunday.”