Toto Wolff felt the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Components One Group used a ‘get out of jail free card’ through the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend as they left Italy nonetheless within the lead of each championships.
Lewis Hamilton salvaged a second-place end at Imola regardless of discovering himself going through the barrier halfway by way of the race, with the Briton additionally setting the quickest lap to attain a bonus level to maintain himself forward of Pink Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen within the Drivers’ Championship.
Group-mate Valtteri Bottas had a nightmare weekend, qualifying solely eighth after which crashing out in a heavy accident involving Williams Racing’s George Russell whereas the duo had been combating for minor factors.
Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, says the group are in for a difficult season in 2021, notably with the problem Pink Bull have introduced within the opening two races.
“Imola was a loopy race and the type of grand prix that lives lengthy within the reminiscence: there have been so many ups and downs and there have been a number of moments the place it felt like we wouldn’t rating any factors in any respect,” stated Wolff. “It was a rollercoaster of feelings, from the frustration of Valtteri’s scary accident to the fun of Lewis’ restoration drive.
“To return away main each Championships nearly felt like a get out of jail free card, as a result of our rivals didn’t maximise the chance we gave them. And it simply proves what a difficult season we’ve forward of us and the way rapidly issues can flip round in Components 1.”
Mercedes completed first and second in final 12 months’s Portuguese Grand Prix on the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, however Wolff is anticipating one other shut battle with Pink Bull on this 12 months’s occasion. He additionally doesn’t assume Scuderia Ferrari, nor the McLaren F1 Group will probably be far-off.
“Final 12 months was our first race in Portimão,” stated Wolff. “It’s an thrilling, undulating monitor and produced some nice racing in 2020; we additionally noticed in qualifying and the opening laps that getting the tyres working correctly will not be simple.
“It’s nonetheless fairly a brand new circuit for everybody, which ought to make issues attention-grabbing and imply we’re studying all by way of the weekend.
“We’re anticipating one other shut struggle with Pink Bull, and each McLaren and Ferrari may be within the combine too. So, let’s see how issues play out in Portugal.”