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Mercedes Red Bull desert duel "a sign of what's to come this year" - Wolff

Mercedes Red Bull desert duel "a sign of what's to come this year" - Wolff

F1 News

Mercedes Red Bull desert duel "a sign of what's to come this year" - Wolff

Mercedes Red Bull desert duel "a sign of what's to come this year" - Wolff
GPFans Staff

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes the desert duel in Bahrain between Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen has served as a lively appetiser to a feast of a battle between the two drivers and teams this Formula 1 season.

Red Bull has hit the ground running with its RB16B, in contrast to Mercedes with its W12 after encountering issues with the new aerodynamic regulations that have affected the low-rake philosophy of its car.

Yet while Verstappen comfortably took pole position in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, it was Mercedes and Hamilton that emerged as race winners following a perfectly executed strategy.

Wolff is certainly envisaging more of the same over the remaining 22 races.

"The 2021 F1 season certainly began in spectacular style," said Wolff.

"It was an encouraging first race, coming away from Bahrain with a double podium, and hopefully the duel in the desert between us and Red Bull is a sign of what's to come this year. "We may have won the first round, but we're under no illusions that this will be a straightforward season.

"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."

Next up is this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, venue in November for Mercedes clinching its seventh consecutive constructors' championship following a Hamilton victory.

But as in Bahrain, Red Bull should again have the advantage, and at a circuit that yielded just six overtakes in last year's race, Wolff appreciates Mercedes' focus will be over the one lap on Saturday. "Imola is such a historic and iconic venue, and it's a track the drivers really enjoy, with its sweeping nature, high speeds and variety of corner types," added Wolff.

"It's quite a narrow track, which makes overtaking more difficult, but this puts more focus on strategy and makes qualifying even more crucial."

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