We expect Japanese GP to be more challenging than in previous years – Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

by Tom Cairns
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in the 2019 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom - Race

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport go into the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend with the opportunity to seal the Constructors’ Championship for the sixth consecutive year.

The Brackley-based team returned to winning ways last time out in Sochi, where Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas brought home the team’s eighth one-two of the season, the first since the British Grand Prix back in July.

Russia saw Hamilton extend his championship lead to seventy-three points over second place Bottas with five races remaining including this round at Suzuka.

Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff believes that the Sochi result had “highly motivated” the team, especially with their rivals Scuderia Ferrari have made since the summer break.

“Claiming a 1-2 in Sochi after three races without a win was a great feeling,” Wolff added.

“We delivered a strong race in Russia, made the most of our opportunities and both Lewis and Valtteri drove flawlessly. We brought home 44 points, built the gap in both championships and are highly motivated to keep our foot on the throttle for the remaining five races.

“However, the win in Sochi doesn’t change the fact that Ferrari had a stronger start to the second part of the season than we did. We’ll bring some minor upgrades to the car in Japan which will hopefully help us take a step in the right direction; however, we know that we need to extract absolutely everything from our car and the tyres if we want to be able to challenge for a win.

Suzuka has been one of Mercedes’ kindest circuits, with five wins out of five since the V6 turbo-hybrid era began in 2014. The German manufacturer have also taken pole position on each of those five occasions, with Lewis Hamilton clinching the last two.

The Silver Arrows can clinch the Constructors’ Championship for this year in Japan if they can outscore Ferrari by at least fourteen points.

Wolff is aware of his team’s history on the this track but he expects their rivals to step up this weekend and battle it out on both Saturday and Sunday.

“The next race takes us to the iconic Suzuka Circuit with its exhilarating corner sequences and highly enthusiastic fans,” Wolff shared.

“We have a strong track record there, having won every Japanese Grand Prix in the hybrid era, but we expect this year to be challenging given the strength of our opponents. It will be a very close battle on track – and one that we very much look forward to. Our targets for the final quarter of the season is clear and it’s up to us to make sure we achieve them.”

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