Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is convinced the 2018 Formula 1 season will deliver an intense three-way fight between the Silver Arrows, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Despite facing its biggest threat in the V6 hybrid era in 2017 from a revitalised Ferrari, Mercedes prevailed in both F1 world championships and heads into the new campaign aiming to equal the Italian outfit’s record of five consecutive constructors’ titles. 

The reigning world champion squad is considered the team to beat once more going into this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, though pre-season testing suggested Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are closer in terms of outright pace compared to last year. 

“We're excited to go racing again,” Wolff said. “Everything we've done over the past months were just the first steps on the road to start our 2018 campaign - from the first build of the car to the first fire-up, from the launch in Silverstone to testing in Barcelona. Now, it's time to find out what we've got: like the old saying goes, when the flag drops, the bullsh*t stops. 

“Last year, the competition was very close and there was no moment where we could afford to relax. Ferrari put up a very tough fight and we had a proper battle between silver and red. This year promises to bring an exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull. 

“Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has worked extremely hard over the past months to make sure we enter that fight with the best machine possible. Both our drivers seem reasonably happy with our new car, but it remains yet to be seen how well it performs when driven in anger.”

Mercedes may not have made the pre-season headlines for its one-lap pace, but it did turn heads with consistently strong race simulations, as well as for completing the most mileage of any team with a combined total of 1040 laps racked up between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

While the German manufacturer had no reliability concerns over the two weeks of testing at Barcelona, Wolff is refusing to be drawn on the conclusion the team has produced a bullet-proof car in the shape of its W09 challenger. 

“The reduction in the number of power unit components means that reliability will again play an important role in 2018. Our reliability in testing looked good but we need to be careful to draw any conclusions from that.

“Despite getting some good mileage with the new car in Barcelona, many of its components have not even come close to the life they need to complete during the season.”


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