Wolff still talking down Mercedes chances


No matter whether his drivers were 2s faster than anyone else in a practice session, finished the race half a lap ahead of the closest opposition and has a points tally double that of the runner-up, even as the titles have piled up, over the years Toto Wolff has stoically refused to admit his team faces little serious sustained opposition.

At times his repeated denials that the Brackley outfit is head and shoulders above the opposition have left him looking like F1's version of Comical Ali.

Needless to say, following a test which left his drivers first and third quickest, his team having completed 200 miles more than the closest opposition - and almost five times that of McLaren - the Austrian is playing down his team's chances.

Asked how satisfied he is following last week's opening test, he told the sport's official website: "As much as you can be satisfied after four days of testing!

"There is an early indication that we are looking okay," he added, "but it is no more and no less."

Asked about Adrian Newey's suggestion that the Mercedes appears more complicated than the Red Bull, he replies: "We are on very different philosophies.

"Fundamentally it is all about extracting the maximum performance of the car, and whether this is through sophisticated work or a more simplistic approach is, at the end of the day, irrelevant.

"What counts is the performance of the car," he adds. "I have no doubt that whatever car Adrian and his team bring to the track will be a tough competitor to beat. My guess is that we haven't seen the Red Bull Racing car of 2017 yet."

Though refusing to say much about Paddy Lowe's departure, other than the usual F1 PR Bull, asked about James Allison's recruitment following a disappointing stint at Ferrari, the Austrian says: "James is a very respected engineer who was part of very successful structures at Ferrari and Renault.

"I like his personality and his management approach," he continues. "But he was not available for a long time. When he became available - because he wasn't able to meet his management's expectations and had to cope with a dramatic personal situation - it was a must for me to get him on board. But James is not replacing Paddy, because the structure has changed."

Finally, talking of new and former employees at Brackley, he is asked about Ross Brawn's recruitment as the sport's Managing Director, Motor Sports.

"Ross has been in F1 forever and one thing is for sure: you can't bullsh*t Ross!

"Ross' objectives right now are totally different to the ones he had when he was part of our team. He needs to make sure that the regulations allow a great spectacle, and that means he is looking at things from the other side of the fence now."

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Published: 06/03/2017
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