Mercedes’ F1 qualifying pace ‘not down to upgrade’ - Wolff

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says his side’s impressive qualifying pace at Silverstone was not solely down the upgrade it brought to this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Mercedes’ F1 qualifying pace ‘not down to upgrade’ - Wolff

The reigning world champions had appeared to be on the back foot against Red Bull after Max Verstappen dominated opening practice on Friday morning, holding an advantage of nearly eight-tenths over Lewis Hamilton.

But Hamilton hit back to beat his main title rival by just 0.075s in a thrilling Friday evening qualifying session to secure top spot for F1’s new 17-lap sprint race. Teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, 0.194s adrift of Hamilton's benchmark.

Mercedes introduced updates to its W12 car at Silverstone in its bid to reduce the deficit to Red Bull after suffering five consecutive defeats, but Wolff stressed the upgrade was not key to its vast turnaround.

“It’s good to come back, especially the pace of both drivers,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

“Lewis could have probably been another three-tenths up if it hadn’t been for the rallying at the end, so it’s good and I’m happy about the pace.

“It’s not the upgrade, I think it’s that we’ve found bits everywhere,” he added.

“The tyres were in the right window and the sweetspot of the car, you can see how it fluctuates between Verstappen being absolutely dominant in the morning and then it swings the other way around.”

Mercedes is 44 points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, with Hamilton 32 points down on Verstappen in the drivers’ standings heading into the 10th round of what is scheduled to be a 23-race season.

And Wolff said Mercedes is relishing the challenge coming from Red Bull after enjoying years of dominance throughout the V6 hybrid era.

“We see it as a test," he explained. "We had seven championships in a row, we were never complacent, we were always humble about it and worrying that somebody could catch us up.

“Then suddenly we find ourselves this year with a new set of regulations that bite us more than expected, so that’s something to learn, so that we are behind.

“And everything that we talked about in the last few years about how we would react if that happens, now it’s the test, and we can see whether we do as expected or not.

“It doesn’t win you the championship but still it allows you to stay in the hunt and I’m happy with how we are reacting so far.”

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