Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff feels the fewest mistakes will decide the 2018 Formula 1 world championship fight and feels Sebastian Vettel’s biggest strength is also his weakness.

After seeing Vettel clash with Valtteri Bottas at the first turn in the French Grand Prix, it allowed Lewis Hamilton to ease to victory to take the F1 world championship lead off the Ferrari driver who could only recover to fifth place after picking up damage and a five-second time penalty for hitting the Finnish driver.

Vettel was in trouble with the FIA stewards for a second consecutive round when he was given a three-place grid penalty for blocking Carlos Sainz Jr in Q2 of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.



While Vettel’s Austrian Grand Prix penalty was not considered the German’s fault, as he was not warned by his team about Sainz on a fast lap, Wolff sees key moments like his collision with Bottas in France as vital to the title battle.

“I think in order to win a championship you need to be as fast as possible, as reliable as possible and with the least errors,” Wolff said. “But sometimes it’s very difficult to put all this together.

“I’ve said it before, Sebastian’s biggest strength is certainly his ambition but sometimes - like in Le Castellet - it went against him.

“I think every team is aware that you need to get out of the way in order to not have a penalty. All drivers are instructed by their engineers about what’s happening behind them. So that’s not linked whatsoever to Le Castellet.”

Vettel will attack from a demoted sixth on the grid in Austria while Mercedes produced a front-row lockout with Bottas on pole ahead of Hamilton. 

Wolff has warned that Mercedes’ goal of a 1-2 result in Spielberg is not assured by Vettel’s penalty given his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen now starts from third on the grid.

“Kimi is still there,” he said. “What we have said is that the Ferrari is particularly strong on traction out of turn 3, and into turn 3 it will be difficult. That problem is not solved and there is a Ferrari that performs well. Obviously, the situation is more comfortable like this [with Vettel’s penalty].”


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