Toto Wolff feels his Mercedes team and its reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton are performing at a “near-faultless” level but must avoid a sense of “entitlement” to the F1 title if they are to win again.
It is now eight years since a team other than Mercedes won the constructors’ title, but this season the team that last beat them to it in Red Bull is closer than ever.
Despite Mercedes starting from pole in three of the four races so far, Wolff believes Red Bull has the upper hand in qualifying, suggesting it is the race performance that is keeping his team ahead.
“On pace, it very much swings in Red Bull’s favour on Saturday, and probably on Sunday towards us," said Wolff. "Our car seems to be good on the tyres, and we have had almost faultless executions.
“I think he [Hamilton] is just faultless. That’s no guarantee that he will be all season because we all make mistakes and a car can break down, but his ability of learning, still, after so many seasons, is very impressive.
“If you have the possibility of following the other car and the other drivers so closely you learn even more and that may be an advantage. In Spain, we were behind, but we were in a position to make that [two-stop strategy] call.
“The guys and girls in the team are doing a really great job. Even on the days we lose, we learn and I think the mindset is right and when our car’s not quick enough we are still able to extrapolate good performance.
“But never rest, never have any sense of entitlement. In two weeks it can swing in the other direction and then it will be a weekend to learn.”
Hamilton lost the lead at the start of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix after a robust move from Max Verstappen but the team’s strategists out-thought Red Bull in the race and used a two-stop approach to regain the top spot.
Wolff added: “I really need to take my hat off to the group of strategists led by James [Allison] and all the group in Brackley. They are just fantastic mathematicians and strategists coming up with all the simulations.
“They said in our plan, if we were to stop now, we would end up catching him one lap to the end and we would have a tyre differential of 1.4 seconds and we believe that it is enough.
“In the end, we trust them and we trust the data but they were terribly wrong – we caught him four laps to the end!”
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