Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Wolff “surprised” Ferrari threat didn’t materialise

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he expected Ferrari’s straight-line speed would make them a bigger threat in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Wolff’s team were never seriously threatened by the red cars during the race, despite Ferrari enjoying a top speed advantage on the long back straight at the Shanghai International Circuit. He said this isn’t what he expected.

“I believed that their straight-line advantage, especially in the opening laps, would be a danger for us and, once DRS was enabled, even more,” said Wolff. “And we didn’t see them coming anywhere near.

“I think our exit onto the main straight out of turn 13 was very good. We were able to put a little gap there so they were never close enough. But it came as a surprise.”

Based on what he’s seen so far Wolff believes Ferrari’s top speed advantage is greater in qualifying trim than in race conditions.

“I haven’t seen the numbers yet but their straight-line performance is still very strong in the race, not as strong as in qualifying, it’s been very impressive.

“[But] as with every team you need to get the balance right between the drag, power and downforce level. You want to have a draggy car to go fast through the corners but equally you mustn’t lose time on the straight and getting that balance right is very difficult.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Wolff “surprised” Ferrari threat didn’t materialise”

  1. I know, I know! This is called “trolling”, right?

    1. Toto-lling ;)

      1. Totrolling

  2. ***Yaaawwwwnnnn*** He repeats the same thing every race weekend.. As soon as he starts praising Ferrari pre-race weekend, its obvious Mercedes is going to beat them easily..

  3. Ferrari have definitely not developed their car as well as Mercedes post Barcelona testing. Its evident they have fallen behind and now must start their comeback.
    Is it because they felt they had a great car in corners (Barcelona track is mostly corners and not straight line speed) and therefore focused most of the development on straight line speed post Barcelona testing? Getting the downforce to drag ratio wrong?

    Though three consecutive 1-2 for Mercedes are not at all what Ferrari wanted and expected, the season is still very long. As Shanghai track is also not very representative with very low temperatures and hard on tyres.

  4. Really, Toto? Really?

    1. What’s he going to do after F1, sell snake oil in the post-apocalypse?

  5. Haven’t you had enough, Toto? Look at what you’ve done to the Ferrari. :)

  6. Pedro Andrade
    14th April 2019, 12:06

    I’ve been surprised as well every race weekend since Australia 2014! Who would have thought Rosberg could beat Magnussen to the victory in Melbourne?

  7. Electroball76
    14th April 2019, 12:11

    At this point would it not be easier just to condense Merc’s top trollos into a single weekly report?

  8. I think mercedes made minor improvements! plus they must have set their tyre pressures right

  9. You can quit the act Toto. You master troller. :D

    1. No, there’s a fine art to trolling. You have to say something that is believable for a start and you have to find a way to convince people you are right even when it appears you aren’t. Saying the same statement over and over and then following it up by “I’m surprised” when you are inevitably proven wrong isn’t masterful. It’s just boring and repetitive.

      I appreciate it doesn’t get people on board with your brand if you are perceived to be easily dominating a sport for half a decade so you try to downplay your strengths and make yourself appear as a plucky underdog but no-one is buying it Toto.

      1. You know this is actually what I meant, I don’t know why I threw the master part in there. Agreed on all points…

  10. Toto “we are surprised we even beat Williams with our shocking car!…”

  11. Oh come on!

  12. What’s Toto supposed to say? It’s either ‘trolling’ or ‘sorry guys, we’re just too awesome. See you all in 2020.’

    Ferrari have a faster powered car. Over the winter Mercedes focused on aero, their weakest area, and have more downforce and more aero adaptability. Plus settled mechanical reliability. And they’ve learned how to win. And they have a 5x champion who is still keen to learn (and win). Combined, that makes it difficult for Ferrari, hampered too by their own top driver being less hungry and more mistake prone than the newcomer to the team, Leclerc. And by dropping back from Mercedes, they fall into range of Verstappen, a huge talent, outdriving his car Alonso-style, ready to eat up their mistakes, like today. Ferrari can turn this round still, but they need to sharpen up.

  13. Wow Toto wow. This is the best start to a season for mercedes since the hybrid era began in 2014 and yet still they are surprised that they are winning like this.

  14. Whilst I agree with some comments about how tiring it is to hear this same downplaying from Mercedes, surely it’s better to do this, than to overhype and then produce disappointment. Well, maybe it’s only slightly better.

    But it’s no different from the bigging up Red Bull have been doing about the Honda engine, when so far, they have actually been no worse than last year really. (Apart from Gasly, but I think there’s other issues there) In fact, so far like last year, they’ve scored bigger points because someone at Ferrari has dropped the ball.

    Or for that matter, no worse, than the constant ‘We’ll learn from this race and come back stronger next race’ that dominated many of Ferrari’s interviews during the latter half of last season beginning after Germany and continuing through the performance slump and Vettel’s decision to take up dpughnutting.

    1. @nikkit

      I have to weigh in here regarding RedBull. The Renault has been very unreliable this year. With Red Bull tight packaging i am almost certain they would be worse off had they stuck with the french.

      Side note, Honda best sounding engine this year

  15. GtisBetter (@)
    14th April 2019, 16:48

    I do think many are surprised at the step back from last race with Ferrari

  16. On a slightly unrelated note, I think the Ferrari 2017 short-wheelbase concept was a very good concept. I know it sucked on the straights but with the huge gains they’ve made in terms of engine power, they could’ve made up the speed deficit without sacrificing downforce because downforce-wise, it was so good (probably better than RBR at the time). Having said that, I feel like Merc seem to have the slight advantage.

    I could be wrong as this is just my opinion based on my basic aero knowledge and technical articles I’ve read. So don’t @ me.

    1. @lebz

      Don’t @ me LoL – Good one !!!

      I think Ferrari have underestimated the leap the Germans were capable of from pre-season until now

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