Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “Everything is still very much up for grabs this season”

by Paul Hensby

Toto Wolff believes no one would have predicted the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport team finishing first and second in all four of the opening Grand Prix of 2019, especially after what transpired during pre-season testing.

Scuderia Ferrari were expected to be the pacesetters after a strong performance throughout pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have each won twice so far in 2019, with the other following their team-mate home each time.

However, Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says the results of the races do not paint the whole picture of the 2019 season to date, with Ferrari having the fastest car during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend only to be let down by reliability issues, while the Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw all three of the leading teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – have strong pace.

“Nobody would have predicted four consecutive Mercedes 1-2s after winter testing,” said Wolff.  “But here we are having scored 173 points in the first four races – a remarkable result which is first and foremost testament of the amazing work of every single member of the team.

“Our devotion to the task, our hunger for victory and our love of racing are stronger than ever.  The results seem to paint a relatively clear picture, but the truth is that they’re too flattering.  The performance has fluctuated in the first four races.

“We had the fastest car in Australia and China, but we won in Bahrain thanks to our reliability when we were on the back foot in terms of speed.  And while our race pace looked good in Azerbaijan, we were never able to build a truly comfortable gap to our rivals.

“So, there is no complacency about our situation because we know that it’s not truly representative of the balance of power this season so far.”

The Formula 1 circus now arrives at the venue of the pre-season testing for the Spanish Grand Prix, and Wolff believes it will be a tough test for the Mercedes team in light of the pace shown by Ferrari there before the season began.  He has doubts about Mercedes’ own performance and insists there are still many areas the team can improve on their W10 Hybrid.

“Our next stop takes us to Barcelona, where our opponents were blisteringly quick in winter testing, so the Spanish Grand Prix will be anything but easy,” said Wolff.  “Despite the good start to the season we remain quite sceptical of our own performance and know that there are a number of areas where we can and must improve.

“We anticipate a tough and competitive weekend, first against our rivals and also between our drivers. Everything is still very much up for grabs this season and we will be keeping our foot firmly to the floor.”

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