Despite claiming a shock front-row lockout for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff could not ignore the fact Mercedes is losing out significantly to rivals Ferrari on pure performance.

Heavy rain hit Budapest in time for qualifying, opening the door for championship leader Lewis Hamilton to take a surprise pole position ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari only managing third on fourth around a circuit it threatened to dominate before rain fell.

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While Wolff was thrilled with the way qualifying panned out for his team, he revealed the German manufacturer had been losing up to four tenths of a second compared to Ferrari in the first sector of the Hungaroring up until Q3.

“I think we were a bit lucky with the weather. On the dry we didn’t have the pace during the weekend,” Wolff explained. “Curious to see what it would have been at the end, on the intermediate it was a little bit evenly matched and then straight out on the heavy wets we could see that we had a pace advantage.”

When asked where he believes the time difference between F1’s leading two teams is coming from, Wolff replied: “It’s still the straights. We have lost four tenths in the first sector and that is all related to power.

“I would say their package is the best. They have one of the best chassis also and insofar there is where is where it is most evident.”

Wolff stressed he did not want to make a big story out of Ferrari’s progress with its power unit performance, and promised Mercedes is leaving “no stone unturned” in a bid to “strike back”.

“It is fair enough,” he said. “I don’t want to come back to the engine because everybody needs the best engine and the best car, the best combination. We are pushing very hard, our engine guys are leaving no stone unturned and we will strike back. “

And Wolff believes a strong start for his drivers will be key in the race, considering Ferrari’s strengths in that department and Mercedes’ recent struggles.

“First if it’s dry we have to beat them off the start. The Ferrari’s have also been very good from the starts and down to Turn 1 and this is a very long straight so you need to be able to hold position,” he explained.

“Then we have to see how it pans out. This is one where we haven’t expected to be in the hunt for the win so we are going to do everything possible to make it happen.”

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