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Mercedes boss cautious ahead of F1 season opener in Melbourne

Written by  Mar 20, 2018

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has struck a cautious tone on the team's expectations ahead of the Formula 1 season opener in Australia.

Though it was Ferrari who topped the timesheets in testing two weeks ago, many still anticipate the world champions to be the team to beat in Melbourne after some very strong long-run pace and having yet to really push the new W09.

It is that final point which the Austrian alluded to when considering the German manufacturer's chances, dismissing the what the analysis from testing might suggest.

“Both our drivers seem reasonably happy with our new car, but it remains yet to be seen how well it performs when driven in anger,” Wolff said.

“This year promises to bring an exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull. Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has worked extremely hard over the past months to make sure we enter that fight with the best machine possible.”

A battle between Mercedes and Ferrari has been the story of the last two races at Albert Park, with the Silver Arrows overhauling the Prancing Horses to take victory in 2016 but last year it was reversed as Sebastian Vettel used better strategy to beat Lewis Hamilton.

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Reliability at the first race is also often more of an issue due to the potential for teething problems that either didn't emerge in testing or haven't been properly fixed, but this year Wolff sees that as a more long-term problem.

“Our reliability in testing looked good but we need to be careful to draw any conclusions from that – despite getting some good mileage with the new car in Barcelona, many of its components have not even come close to the life they need to complete during the season,” he admitted.

But with the prospect of a fifth consecutive championship to fight for, Mercedes know that recent success is not guaranteed to continue.

“We will tackle this new season with the same dedication, team spirit and energy that has made us strong in the past," Toto declared. "Each of us has the mindset that last year’s championships belong in the past; yesterday’s trophies don’t win today’s games.

"Right now, we start this long season on zero points like every one of our rivals and we have to give it everything to be successful again this year.”

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