Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

Mercedes still consider themselves “challengers” to Ferrari despite Melbourne win

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ emphatic win in the opening race of the 2019 F1 season has not changed their view that they are still the “challengers” to testing pace-setters Ferrari, according to Toto Wolff.

The team head into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix having claimed a maximum 44 points from the season-opening race. Ferrari, against expectations, struggled and finished outside the podium positions.

“Claiming the maximum 44 points race from the first race was a fantastic result,” said Wolff, “we could not have asked for a better start to the season.

“But the fight has only just begun. Ferrari will try everything they can to hit back and Melbourne showed that Red Bull will have something to say in the fight, too. We’ve seen the potential of Ferrari’s package in Barcelona, so we expect them to come back strong in Bahrain, with Red Bull in the mix as well.”

Ferrari won F1’s last two visits to Bahrain. Wolff said he expects to see a “very different race” this weekend.

“After the Barcelona test, we felt that we were the challengers. Whatever the Melbourne result says, our mindset hasn’t changed since then. One race doesn’t determine the pecking order for the rest of the season.

“We need to extract every bit of performance from our package and keep on working hard to improve the car over the weekend to be competitive. We’ve had some great racing in recent years in Bahrain, so I’m looking forward to an exciting weekend.”

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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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41 comments on “Mercedes still consider themselves “challengers” to Ferrari despite Melbourne win”

  1. Gotta love how every team is trying to be the underdog in every situation..

    1. Of course it makes sense for them to do so to keep the team focused, but it doesn’t make sense that the F1 ‘media’ reprints it like it is somehow true.

      1. Two weeks ago, the F1 media was claiming Mercedes was in trouble, and that Ferrari had finally gotten ahead in the performance department.

        From a development point of view, it makes sense that Mercedes worries about Ferrari and Red Bull. Complacency is the first step towards failure.

  2. Imagine Wolff’s managing expectations at Williams instead of Mercedes…..

    1. “We are considering entering the F2 race this weekend, we think we hace the package to challenge for the podium, even though PREMA are the absolute favourites”

    2. Actually, would be completely different:

      “We’re aware our car has some problems, but we’re confident our team of engineers, and everyone else, will put in 110% until we’ve got our problems sorted, and return to the top of the midfield.”

      1. Actually, would be completely different:

        I agree, if Williams employed Toto as Team Principal then you wouldn’t have seen top design and performance related people leaving.

        1. ^what he said^

  3. Hate these kind of articles, there is no point to them. Give every team principals opinion in one article please.

    1. Keep in mind, every one of these “fluff” style pieces, originated because some journalist, somewhere, asked the question in the first place.

    2. Maybe you hate it, but it gets the Team Principal talking, and, I suspect, maybe in that process has said something to Dieter (@dieterrencken) that is far more interesting or important than what they actually meant to say. For example, recently we saw a list of F1 drivers estimated annual pay. That probably came from different Team Principals mentioning little bits on the side after responding to some “routine” questions. And, of course, I suspect Racefans get some sort of payment every time we post a comment, which helps fund this website.

      1. I suspect Racefans get some sort of payment every time we post a comment, which helps fund this website: nit if you a supporter – that’s a flat rate…

        1. Thanks for correcting me.

  4. This is really getting ridiculous

  5. He’s becoming worse than Horner. Not as mean-spirited, but just as predictable and uninteresting.

    1. At least Horner is amusing in a cynical way if you like that sort of thing

      1. The thing is, I don’t. He’s a nuisance. With a cult following, which makes it even worse.

  6. If Mercedes doesn’t win the Bahrain GP, Toto will wonder out loud whether both their cars will make it to Q3 in China.

  7. Toto is hilarious. I think he’s having a laugh with the press and a dig at Ferrari also.

    1. Exactly. Didn’t they just won 5 consecutive WDC and WCC titles… challenger my ass.

  8. Toto “the Troll” Wolf is it?

  9. Hehe :-) “One race doesn’t determine the pecking order for the rest of the season.”

    But pre-season testing is the Bible.

    1. @vjanik Well last year Ferrari was fastest in pre season testing, off by 8 tenths in Melbourne and then well fastest in the races after Melbourne.

      Then Ferrari had the fastest car on average over the season, but Mercedes/Hamilton were “lucky” to pick up the wins while Vettel kept faltering

      So it’s not that far fetched.

  10. Ferrari should employ him as their marketing director. Over the past six years he’s become an expert at making them sound far better than they actually are.

  11. In fairness to all the Team Prinipals, if you dont view yourself as a “challenger” and instill that attitude in your team then you will become complacent and you will underestimate your opponents and you will lose (eventually).

  12. Toto “q2 will be our target in quali, points in the race if we get lucky, anything more than that will be down to the incredible talent of lewis and valtteri”

  13. This is getting embarrassing. Since 2016 they are the underdogs and weak team. Last year Hamilton was saying that Ferrari had the fastest car while they really did not. Now after smashing the competition for fun, they say that they are challengers…didn’t they win the last championships? So who are they challenging? Themselves? THIS IS A YOKE!

    1. I agree with Hamilton Ferrari had the best car but Merc were close enough that Hamiltons superiority over Vettel came into play.

    2. I also agree with Hamilton that Ferrari had the best car in 2018. Vettel made too many mistakes, it made things easier for the Mercs

    3. Last year Ferrari did have the fastest car. If only Vettel had not made such a huge list of blunders he would have easily taken the WDC.

      For instance Vettel would have easily won AZE, AUT, GER, ITA and USA if he hadn’t make the dumb mistakes he made in those races. Those alone would have won Vettel the WDC.

      Then there still are races like FRA and JPN where he threw away many points crashing into cars. Or races like SIN and HUN where he didn’t perform in Q3 (bit of rain in HUN). Or ESP and BRA where he seemed to under perform in general. Or CHN where his weird opening the door for Verstappen drew Verstappen into a late lunge.

      1. This is putting all the blame on vettel, you can see this considering you gave part of the blame for china (!) to vettel instead of verstappen, and also in spain ferrari was the 3rd best car, look at raikkonen. Singapore ferrari was also slow.

        Overall considering the faltering ferrari towards the end of the year, merc had the slightly faster car, however they had slightly less reliability, more or less it was even, with several of the mistakes you pointed out the biggest ferrari problem was indeed vettel.

  14. i feel the urge to write in all-caps

  15. Pedro Andrade
    25th March 2019, 15:30

    Toto is getting increasingly annoying with all this downplaying themselves stuff.

  16. Guys, it’s not Toto’s fault. Ferrari was fast during winter test, Vettel and Leclerc said the car was smooth, stable, feels good etc… We were given impression this will be the Ferrari domination year, so don’t feel frustrated just after the first race. Look at how Mercedes performed previously at Monaco, it’s just an one-off track specific gremlins… Let’s hope Melbourne is the worse track this year for Ferrari, and they’ve managed 4th and 5th which is not bad!

    1. 4th and 5th with a red bull out of contention IS bad, it’s not possible to get worse than 6th with gasly in the fight, don’t tell me you expect the top teams to get behind midfield teams, so literally they got the worst possible result.

  17. Toto “If we beat Williams this season, it’ll be like winning the championship for us!”

  18. I kinda remembered the password but was still unable to login on racefans. So I had to go to that forget password option, go to my old mail id, retrieve that old mailid’s password and then was able to set a new password for racefans, and after half hour, I was able to log in, and now I am able to type this comment.

    Toto is dumb.

    Thanks.

  19. Toto does know his cars qualified 1 & 2 and finished 1 & 2, a good 30+ seconds ahead of the cars he says they are ‘challengers’ to? Like even if Ferrari were having an off day they never looked close to Mercedes at all – Red Bull looked closer. Maybe after Bahrain it’ll look different but right now Ferrari absolutley do not look like the leader of the pack.

  20. Does Media fact check these statements?

  21. Ferrari did impress in winter testing. If they regain that form based on the “corrections” they are saying they have made, it will be a tight fight upfront in Bahrain. But if it does not work and Mercedes again walk away with a 1-2 finish, for once can Toto be honest and say “we have the fastest car at this point and we intend to dominate the opposition”. Just say it Toto. We are so tired of hearing we don’t have the fastest car, we are behind blah, blah, blah.
    Toto has become Horner without the smirk and the smugness.

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