Toto Wolff says the last two days of winter testing helped Mercedes big time to put itself in a better shape for the 2019 F1 season.
It wasn’t looking the best for Mercedes in the 2019 F1 winter testing – or they were simply sandbagging – as Ferrari showed good pace to challenge the German manufacturer and finally get them off the top spot.
The situation changed once the season kick-started as Mercedes were back in form with Ferrari’s hopes diminishing as the season progressed. The Italian manufacturer missed some solid chances as well.
With halfway into the 2019 season, Mercedes’ Wolff reckons the chances for the German manufacturer started to change on the last two days of the winter testing, where they felt they were on par with Ferrari.
“We knew that the second part, the second week of testing would be completely different with much more downforce,” said Wolff to F1 in an interview. “But then we took it on-track and it didn’t perform.
“I would say there was skepticism whether we were right or wrong. But the group continued to assess and developed timely. There was never any sense of nervousness and in the last two days of the test, we finally reached the performance level of Ferrari.
“We felt that we were in the position to be able to fight for the wins – probably Ferrari would have the edge, but definitely wouldn’t have expected that it would pan out like it did.
“It [panic] is a trap in which you can fall if you start to either be complacent, you will feel a sense of entitlement if you are winning, you need to stay humble, today’s race win doesn’t win you tomorrow’s competition.
“Somebody can develop the car in an intelligent way and you have done the opposite. Once you have finished the race, we analyse on a Monday, we have to learn and then move on to the next race with zero points in the next weekend and this has been the mindset at Mercedes for the last few years.”
Speaking more about their season and the prospect of creating history by winning the sixth title, he said: “The season so far has certainly exceeded our expectations because we started winter testing with some poor performances.
“We slowly got to understand the car and when the real racing started we were right at the front. But, we were not always the quickest car. Ferrari had a fantastic performances in Bahrain. The car broke down. Leclerc should have won.
“In Baku, they were very fast, and the famous Vettel call in Montreal where he could have won the race or not. So, the statistics could have looked much worse for us than it does. This is the reason we are not taking out foot off the pedal.
“We believe we need to continue to push our performance level to win this championship because our competition will not rest and let us run away with it. We’ve already stretched it quite a bit.
“We’re competing for our sixth consecutive double championship which hasn’t been done before, in any sport. We are proud of having that opportunity, but having said that, it’s not done yet.
“After you get six there is a seventh to conquer. I think the most important thing is to enjoy yourself, have fun, and stay humble.” With nine races to go in the second, Mercedes has 150 points advantage over Ferrari.