Wolff on Ferrari gap to Mercedes: Nobody pulled their pants down

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Matthew Scott

Wolff on Ferrari gap to Mercedes: Nobody pulled their pants down

Toto Wolff moved to play down Mercedes' enormous advantage on the timesheets after Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix, joking that the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull had not yet "pulled their pants down". Lewis Hamilton was quickest in both sessions, with Mercedes eight tenths clear in FP2.

Valtteri Bottas was within four hundredths of the reigning champion's 1:22.600, but the next quickest man – Max Verstappen – was exactly 0.800 seconds adrift.

Both Wolff and Hamilton suggested during pre-season testing that Ferrari could enjoy a half-second advantage over the Silver Arrows, but Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were fifth and ninth respectively.

Although Vettel said Mercedes' reports of their struggle were "bullshit", Wolff suggested Ferrari may now be the ones with something to hide.

"The car is coming together a little bit," Wolff told Sky Sports.

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"We learned a lot in the second week of testing, and the first session [in Australia] was decent.

"Now we have no idea of the performance levels – nobody has pulled their pants down before qualifying tomorrow, but [we've had] a good start."

Bottas kept pace with Hamilton throughout Friday and looked to have a slight edge when it came to long-run pace.

After a winless 2018 campaign, Wolff expects the Finn to be back at his best after a period of reflection over the winter.

"He looks very strong to me," Wolff added. "He's rediscovered the fun of driving with his rallying and he came back with a steely mindset.

"I think he we will see the strongest Valtteri so far.

"He has it in him. The first half of last season was really good, he could've been in the lead of the championship if not for Baku and it wasn't his fault, a race that he could have won.

"So I expect him to perform on that level again."

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