Toto Wolff is refusing to make predictions ahead of the 2017 F1 season but is certain the 'margins have closed' between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull under the new 'violent' regulations.

This week's Australian Grand Prix heralds a bold new era for F1 following a technical overhaul, with tweaks to the aerodynamics and tyres intended to make the cars faster, more difficult to drive and more aggressive in appearance.

It is also the first major test for Mercedes to adapt under revised regulations - which he describes as 'violent' - since it emerged as the dominant force in the sport, though it is doing so without two major factors in that success retired champion Nico Rosberg and former technical chief Paddy Lowe.

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Nevertheless, with Valtteri Bottas and James Allison enlisted as their respective successors, Mercedes is confident it has done everything it needs to maintain its advantage.

"We have tackled with determination the challenge of the new regulations. We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules - but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before. In a way, it's just what the doctor ordered. To have such a challenge is good for the team.

"There is an art to managing expectations. You must not set them too low - but you must also keep them under control. With new regulations, everyone starts with zero points. It provides opportunities as well as risks for every team on the grid. You only need to look back to 2009 to see how unpredictable Formula One can be, with Brawn winning the Championship after being on the brink of extinction. "

Even so, whilst Wolff is sure of his own team's abilities, with Ferrari showing strong pace in pre-season testing, Wolff admits he cannot predict the running order in Melbourne this weekend.

"We take every one of our rivals seriously and respect every team's ability to find that magic bullet. They are all full of very clever people - the best in the world in their fields. We have done the best job we possibly could over the winter and, if we are not the fastest in Melbourne, then it's about finding out why and what needs to be done to get us back to that top spot. It's a challenge we will take on with great motivation and energy. Setbacks can provide a long-term opportunity because you constantly need to improve yourself.

"What we've seen from Barcelona is that the margins at the front of the field have shrunk. We'll see how that pans out in Melbourne, because we still don't know about the fuel loads, weights or power settings of the other cars. As the old saying goes, it is when the flag drops that the bullshit really stops."

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