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Wolff: Swings in performance making racing unpredictable

NEWS STORY
13/04/2019

As we headed to Melbourne for the season opener, it was 'obvious' that Ferrari had the edge. However, the Maranello outfit was well and truly trounced, with the Mercedes duo and Red Bull's Max Verstappen filling the podium.

Two weeks later a combination of red mist and unreliability robbed the Italian team on a weekend in which it left its German and Austrian rivals for dead.

And so on to China, where once again the pendulum has swung in favour of the Silver Arrows, while Ferrari grudgingly accepts the role of support act.

Though the Ferrari power unit clearly has the out-and-out grunt, the Mercedes is clearly making gains in the corners.

"The Ferraris squeezed it all out and were very fast again on the straights, but we were quicker in the corners and that was ultimately how we stayed ahead today," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

"Our car looks really good in terms of downforce level," he continued, "but we need to improve our straight-line speed. It is always a combination of power and drag, so we need to leave no stone unturned on the chassis and the power unit to recover a little bit.

"We're seeing massive swings from weekend to weekend, even within one team," he added, "and it makes this season really interesting. Valtteri was in a class of his own in Melbourne, he struggled in Bahrain, but then he has come back here. For Lewis, it was the other way around; he had some issues in the race in Australia, but was really strong in Bahrain. If you look at Leclerc and Vettel it's very similar. It makes racing unpredictable and I'm sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow as well."

However, the Austrian says the pendulum isn't only swinging between teams.

"I think we have seen those variances between drivers even intra-team variances from race to race," he said. "I think it is related to the circuit layout, driving style and tyres. The same happened at Ferrari. So I think it will be important for each driver out there to accept that you could be looking good at one track and not at the other."

Referring to what was claimed to be a 0.5s loss in straightline speed in Bahrain to the Ferraris, he said: "When I read some of the stuff, it looks like a little bit of complaining that we are lacking straight-line speed. I don't mean that in any way. I think the racing car is a package of the power unit and the chassis and you need to get the job done in both of those areas.

"It is always a combination of drag and power levels. So the way I mean it is not about complaining. What we've seen on our tool is that we are losing three-and-a-half tenths on the straights but we're gaining more in the corners. So that was the difference."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Shanghai, here.

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