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Wolff fears Red Bull has strategic advantage over Hamilton

Wolff fears Red Bull has strategic advantage over Hamilton

F1 News

Wolff fears Red Bull has strategic advantage over Hamilton

Wolff fears Red Bull has strategic advantage over Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has conceded rivals Red Bull has a “strategic advantage” going into today’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola despite Lewis Hamilton starting the race from pole position.

Hamilton is the lone Mercedes up front with the two Red Bulls directly behind and Wolff believes the fact Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen will be on different strategies could make the reigning champion’s afternoon a real challenge.

Verstappen will start on the same medium tyres as Hamilton, while Perez will be shod with mediums for his first stint, giving Red Bull the flexibility to play with its strategy through the race.

Wolff admitted: “It is an advantage they have. You would normally say that starting on the soft is not as good but here it is an offset strategy and it’s not worse than starting on the medium.

“So, for sure, with two cars we know that it’s always an advantage and the offset strategies give them another shot.”

Wolff is also conscious that Red Bull is still ahead of Mercedes on pace and that without Verstappen’s mistake during his final flying lap, where he went onto the grass, Hamilton would not have claimed the top spot in qualifying.

Wolff added: “Clearly, Lewis’ lap today was very good. We have worked hard to sort out some of the balance issues that we had in Bahrain and I think we made a decent step on that.

“The drivability of the power unit has got better and the track conditions are obviously very different to the ones in Bahrain, so all of that played a certain factor.

“But if you one-for-one compare the laps to Red Bull, Max without the mistake would have been on pole. Solid on pole. Maybe not as much as Bahrain, but he would have been there.“

Hamilton’s job will be made harder by the fact that his wingman, Valterri Bottas, is in eighth, behind the two Red Bulls, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly and the two McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.

It is Bottas’ worst grid position since last year’s Turkish Grand Prix, where he started ninth in what was the only race that season where he started lower than fourth.

Wolff explained: “Both drivers had warm-up issues at the beginning of the lap. In Q1, once we were able to give Valterri a second lap on the tyre to bring in the temperatures he was really very good. “

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