Mercedes "in better place" to fight Red Bull than before F1 summer break

Toto Wolff believes Mercedes is "definitely in a better place" to fight Red Bull than before Formula 1's summer break after finishing 1-2 in Turkish Grand Prix qualifying.

Mercedes "in better place" to fight Red Bull than before F1 summer break
Listen to this article

Lewis Hamilton topped Q3 on Saturday at Istanbul Park, but will drop to 11th on the grid thanks to a penalty for an engine change prior to the race weekend.

It means Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will start from pole on Sunday ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who doubted he could challenge Mercedes for the race win.

Hamilton felt that winning the race would be "very hard from 11th, but not impossible" as he looks to protect his two-point lead over Verstappen in the drivers' championship.

After struggling to fight Red Bull for outright pace through the races in June and July, Mercedes appears to have taken a step forward since the summer break.

Team boss Wolff felt Mercedes had "gradually understood the car better" to allow it to fight Red Bull more after losing much of its advantage in the winter changes to the technical regulations.

"The regulations that came in at the beginning of the year created a situation where you run the car where we haven't been running in the last few years," Wolff said.

"The more we run it, the more we drive, the more we could simulate situations, the better we have performed.

"So today we would have been first and second on the road with a solid margin, but unfortunately Lewis has to go back.

"The nice part of the day is that we have pace, and there is six plus one races to go, and where the car is today is definitely in a better place than it was in the spring and the summer."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Bottas will enter Sunday's race looking to end a win drought that dates back to last year's Russian Grand Prix after inheriting pole from Hamilton.

But Wolff dismissed the idea of going into the race with a plan to use Bottas to assist Hamilton's recovery through the field.

"Valtteri's going to race his race tomorrow," Wolff said. "This is about the race win and Valtteri's win, and the team's win, and we're not going to do any bunching up."

Wolff conceded that it was "a bit of a setback" for Mercedes that most of the top 10 had opted to qualify on mediums, meaning Hamilton did not have a strategy offset against the cars around him.

"But it is what it is, he can only try to do the utmost, and I wouldn't want to have any other driver in the car when it is about overtaking and going through the field than Lewis," Wolff said.

"Having said that, yesterday we simulated some of these situations, and it's very difficult to follow in traffic, a phenomenon we have seen all year, but could be something that we need to fight tomorrow.

"There will not be many options left than to try with strategy, and obviously hope that the front train is not disappearing into the distance."

shares
comments

Related video

Bottas "fully going" for Turkey F1 pole, not asked to help Hamilton
Previous article

Bottas "fully going" for Turkey F1 pole, not asked to help Hamilton

Next article

Leclerc's P3 came despite "tricky" Ferrari F1 set-up gamble

Leclerc's P3 came despite "tricky" Ferrari F1 set-up gamble
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Prime

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022