Toto Wolff feels the next two races in Spain and Monaco offer much different challenges to the races already completed in 2018, with overtaking getting increasingly more difficult in the forthcoming events.
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport saw Lewis Hamilton take victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a puncture denied team-mate Valtteri Bottas late in the day, but he knows all teams will be bringing updates to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the challenge will be to maximise the performance of the W09 this weekend.
“After an exciting start to 2018 we’re now heading into the European season with races like Spain and Monaco that present very different challenges than some of the previous tracks,” said Wolff.
“Overtaking is difficult in Barcelona and even more so in Monte Carlo, making track position key for a good race result. So every team will work hard to get every last bit of performance out of the car in qualifying.
“The European season is also the time when teams start introducing bigger upgrades to their cars. It’s the first step of the development race that looks like it could run to the very end of the season.
“It will be interesting to see how much performance the teams can find with their upgrades and what impact those upgrades will have on the team ranking – both at the front and in the midfield.”
Wolff says the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds mixed memories for Mercedes in the past couple of seasons, with the high-profile collision between Nico Rosberg and Hamilton in 2016 being followed by a great result for the latter last year when he passed Sebastian Vettel for the lead into turn one.
“Barcelona holds mixed memories for us – a double DNF in 2016, but also a dramatic win for Lewis last year after passing Vettel on track for the lead,” said Wolff.
“We’re hoping that this year’s Spanish Grand Prix will be a good race for us, but we know that it will be tough.”
Wolff also feels the battle for supremacy between themselves, Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is set to continue in Spain, and perhaps even close up even further.
“The first four races indicate very strongly that we will see the three-way battle continue and – if anything – intensify,” said the Austrian.