Mercedes director Toto Wolff is refusing to get carried away with suggestions that the Silverstone layout should allow the Silver Arrows to resume their previous dominance over the F1 field.
After two races that have seen, first. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo end Mercedes' unbeaten record in Canada and, then, Williams take the fight to the Three Pointed Star in Austria, the mix of long straights and fast and medium speed corners at the home of British motorsport are expected to play to the Brackley team's strengths. Wolff, however, was quick to point to other recent examples where circuits 'should' have favoured Mercedes, only for results to fall short of expectation.
“I remember when we came to Spa last year, all the calculations said 'this is the best ever track for us', then we found that, through Eau Rouge, we were losing a lot of speed - and we didn't really understand what was going on until after the race,” he recalled, “Then we said 'okay, let's got to Monza and blow them away with our power' – and, in Monza, we were not competitive. And Montreal was again one of those tracks where we said 'it's going to be our track', and we finished the race with only one car.
“So, yes, in theory, Silverstone looks to be easier for us on the brakes, the energy recovery, and the cooling on the energy recovery, than Austria, but I think we have to go there and see what happens.”
Explaining that, in the wake of its Canadian problems, the team had already gone conservative on its cooling strategy at the Red Bull Ring, only to find that that had allowed other teams to become more competitive, Wolff clearly expects a closer race than many are predicting, all of which could add to the in-house battle as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton scrap over the world title.
“It's hugely competitive, not only between the drivers, but also the two crews which work hard for one team but are also very competitive as well,” he confirmed, “For the drivers, the main agenda is the drivers' championship, but our main agenda is about winning the constructors' championship , and making sure one of the drivers wins the drivers' championship. Maybe we first need to win the constructors', then we can unleash them....”
Even though there have been signs of cracks appearing in the previously harmonious relationship between Rosberg and Hamilton, Wolff insists that there is no need to impose any form of team orders on his drivers to ensure that Mercedes' bid for glory remains on course.
“We had the discussion three races ago, when tensions started to creep in, and we must expect tensions to creep in,” he noted, referring to the fall-out from Monaco, “In the past, most of the [teams] came back to the [use of] number one and number two drivers, but we are still in the situation where we believe in equal status, because it's what we think our racing spirit should be - not only from Mercedes but F1 in general. But we could well find out that the intelligent guys over the last 30 years had a reason for [team orders]. I hope we're not going to find that out, or have a need to find it out, and right now we're not having any issues. It's all running as we expected.”
Should the need arise, however, the team boss says he does not expect any problems in getting either driver to listen to instructions.
“I don't think 'obey' is the right word, but I am 110 per cent sure he would listen to the call,” he maintained, “There is no such thing as not complying to the strategy of the team. It's not going to happen in the team - never ever!”