Mercedes-AMG F1 Team Principal Toto Wolff believes Mercedes are still behind Red Bull in terms of performance as Formula 1 heads to Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
This season is the first time Mercedes have not appeared to be dominant in the hybrid era, having struggled in testing and with Red Bull claiming pole position for the season opener in Bahrain.
“We may have won the first round, but we’re under no illusions that this will be a straightforward season.”
And despite the fact that Lewis Hamilton still managed to beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to win the race, Wolff believes Red Bull will still be faster at this weekend’s race at Imola and is accepting of the fact that this season will not be “straightforward” like the years before.
“We may have won the first round, but we’re under no illusions that this will be a straightforward season,” commented Wolff.
“The car is still lacking pace over a single lap and Red Bull appear to have the edge right now. We’re pushing hard to close the gap, and this is a challenge we relish.”
Although Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix, it was clear that the Mercedes was slightly slower than the Red Bull over the full race distance, with strategy calls and a botched overtaking manoeuvre being the main reasons for Verstappen failing to claim victory.
But Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is not convinced that Red Bull are necessarily the faster team and he believes that the pecking order could change race-by-race due to track characteristics favouring certain cars at certain circuits.
“I think it’s going to be very tight with Mercedes and we’re going to see if the fight is circuit related,” added the Red Bull driver.
“It will be interesting to see how we are in Imola, on a very different track to Bahrain, and see how we compare against them.”