Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Toto Wolff, has revealed his belief that the 2018 Formula 1 season will see an “exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull.”
In a statement released on Monday, Wolff praised the efforts of the entire team who have worked for the past months to ensure Mercedes can “enter that fight with the best machine possible.”
Winter testing, held in Barcelona earlier this month, seemed to show that Red Bull and Ferrari had taken significant steps forward over the break from both a reliability and performance standpoint.
Both teams openly displayed confidence in their respective cars after testing concluded on March 9th.
“I think we [Red Bull] are close enough to be in the hunt,” Daniel Ricciardo commented after the final day. “[W]e’re definitely feeling better about ourselves than we did 12 months ago,” he added.
Last week, Sebastian Vettel seemed to portray an equally ambitious sense of confidence, saying in a statement, “I think we’re starting from a good base with our SF71H car.” He certainly wasn’t subtle, either, further commenting, “I have a lot of confidence in our team.”
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were the clear favorites throughout winter testing, in fact, they all topped at least one day each. Mercedes were successful from a mileage standpoint, having completed the most laps of anybody, with 734, 103 more than that of Ferrari.
“We will tackle this new season with the same dedication, team spirit and energy that has made us strong in the past,” Wolff said on the issue of fiercer competition. He used a timely saying to sum up why Mercedes can’t take previous dominance for granted in 2018, stating, “yesterday’s trophies don’t win today’s games.”
Since the dawn of the V6-Hybrid era in 2014, Mercedes has dominated Formula 1, winning four consecutive Drivers and Constructors World Championships. 2017 was the first season the Silver Arrows faced feasible competition, in the form of Ferrari, who led the Drivers Championship for the first eleven races of the 20 race season.
“Last year, the competition was very close and there was no moment where we could afford to relax,” Wolff admitted, describing the season as “a proper battle between silver and red.”
By comparison, the 2014, 15′ and 16′ seasons were not ‘proper battles’ at all. In that period, Mercedes contested a total of 59 Grand Prix and won 51 of them. Put simply, they were able to win just over 86% of all races in the course of three seasons.
Despite evidence of previous successes, Wolff was still cautious in his approach to the 2018 season, revealing, “we have to give it everything to be successful again this year.”
The Australian Grand Prix will give both fans and the teams the first glimpse into the potential running order for 2018. Wolff eluded to this, saying, “it’s time to find out what we’ve got: like the old saying goes, when the flag drops, the bulls**t stops.”
The Australian Grand Prix will be held on March 25th at Albert Park in Melbourne.