Wolff Expecting ‘Interesting race’ as Mercedes Experience ‘Complex Weekend’ in China

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Credit: Wolfgang Wilhelm

Toto Wolff expects an interesting race at the Chinese Grand Prix despite both Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport cars lining up behind the Scuderia Ferraris.

Lewis Hamilton was quickest on Friday but the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen proved quicker on Saturday and locked out the front row, and Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, believes his team has been struggling to find the perfect tyre window all weekend, which was highlighted during qualifying.

“It has been a complex weekend for us so far – on some laps, we have hit the window of tyre performance just right like on the final run in Q2; but more often it has felt like we were chasing that window, especially on the UltraSoft tyre where we have been lacking overall grip,” said Wolff, who saw Valtteri Bottas qualify third just ahead of team-mate Hamilton.

“On the other hand, Ferrari have been strong in all conditions and on all tyres and this afternoon’s qualifying results reflect as much. We can see a number of areas of difference on the GPS traces and we need to analyse those carefully.

“We expect the track temperatures to be much warmer tomorrow and we hope that we have anticipated that change in the right way with the set-up.”

Both Mercedes and Ferrari used the soft tyre in Q2 and Wolff hopes that could add to the excitement levels, especially as both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, will start on the Ultrasoft from fifth and sixth.

“Ferrari and ourselves will start of the soft tyres, which is a strategic variation to the cars right behind us, and should provide one more ingredient for an interesting race,” said Wolff.