With Mercedes already cast as the early title favourite, boss Toto Wolff is adamant that the Silver Arrows have the best pair of drivers in Formula 1, but is tipping reigning Champions Red Bull to bounce back from an early crisis.
In the driver department, Wolff said Mercedes lacks nothing – not even compared to Ferrari’s ‘superteam’ of Champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
“Our pair is better!” Wolff proclaimed. “The other two [Alonso-Raikkonen] are strong, but I would not trade Hamilton and Rosberg for anyone in the world.”
Nevertheless Mercedes’ commercial chief and co-owner Wolff, is being cautious, despite the new silver W05 managing something at Jerez that no other team could – a full race simulation.
“It was more than we expected with the debut of the new Power Unit,” the Austrian told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But we are cautious.
“Our integrated approach brought benefits to the operation of the systems and reliability, and supplying four teams helps us to collect information,” he said. “But only in Melbourne will we evaluate the performance.”
It has been said that Mercedes as well as Ferrari – as the only works chassis-engine makers in the pitlane – have a clear advantage in Formula 1’s all-new V6-powered era.
“At this stage [yes],” Wolff admitted, “but certainly in the long term I would say no. Red Bull and Renault have had a big handicap not to have driven the four days, but it is too early to talk about overturning hierarchies.”
“It’s not good for Formula 1 that a manufacturer is in trouble, but I am sure that they will come back strongly. Hopefully a bit less than before!” he added.
Wolff, referring to Sebastian Vettel, told Auto Bild: “First, they have an outstanding driver.”
“Secondly, they have put together a group of people that works very well. Thirdly, they have the resources from the parent company.”
“So there’s no reason that Red Bull will not once again be the benchmark.”
Finally, Wolff spoke about Formula 1’s controversially-milder V6 engine tones for 2014, and the ‘ugly’ new noses.
“I think the engines sound great on the straights,” Wolff told La Gazzetta. “Mainly because you can even hear the hissing of the turbo. I like it, and the critics will get used to it – it’s a spectacular, modern sound.”
As for the noses, it has been said that Mercedes’ solution is arguably among the most attractive of an otherwize unseemly bunch.
Wolff said: “Honestly, I don’t really like any of them, even if we have more of a classical approach. But that doesn’t mean that we are not still considering some possible variations in the wind tunnel.” (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.