Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says “there is absolutely no margin for mistakes” for the rest of the 2018 Formula 1 season in the battle to defend its world titles against Ferrari.

The reigning F1 world champions have missed out on victories at the opening two races of the 2018 campaign to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with Mercedes strategy calls taking the brunt of the blame for the German manufacturer losing out.

After a software bug in Australia miscalculated the time difference Lewis Hamilton needed to get ahead of Vettel after an opportune pit stop under a Virtual Safety Car, Wolff felt Mercedes were at “90% certain” for victory in Bahrain but saw Valtteri Bottas fail to get past Vettel despite having fresher tyres in the final laps.

Wolff has called the first two races of the season “damage limitation” but hopes to use the team’s frustrations to avoid future mistakes for the remainder of the F1 title fight.

“For two races in a row, we did damage limitation with one car and lost the win with the other,” Wolff said. “Both races were decided by fine margins, but that doesn't make it any better; in fact, it probably makes it more frustrating.

“The competition is extremely close in 2018 and Melbourne was already a strong reminder that there is absolutely no margin for imperfections or mistakes in this year's title fight. While we saw a completely different race in Bahrain and lost for different reasons, the message stayed the same: In order to win this year, we need to bring our A game.

“We have started to analyse what went wrong in Bahrain in order to improve for China and come back stronger.”

Wolff sees the Chinese Grand Prix as a key opportunity to strike back given Mercedes’ flawless record in Shanghai in the V6 hybrid era with four consecutive wins including three victories for Hamilton.

“We're quite happy that this is a back-to-back race as that means that we won't have to wait long to get racing again,” he said. “Shanghai has been a good track for us in the past, so hopefully we will get the chance to right some of the wrongs of the past weeks and show a performance that is worthy of Mercedes.”

The Mercedes domination in China stretches back to 2012 with five wins in the past six years, surpassing Ferrari’s total of four wins in Shanghai, with the last coming in 2013 with Fernando Alonso.


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