While the Formula 1 world is already busily comparing the test times between Mercedes and Ferrari after the first day of testing, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has a different opponent in mind as his main competitor for 2020.
Although Max Verstappen was only fourth in Barcelona on Wednesday, more than half a second behind Lewis Hamilton, Wolff believes that Red Bull will get really close for a reason.
“Max could become the youngest world champion if he wins. I think that Red Bull and Helmut (Marko) attach great importance to this,” says the Austrian to Sky Sports F1.
For this reason, Wolff also assumes that Red Bull will “concentrate enormously on the 2020 season” and could neglect 2021 somewhat – simply because they want the record. “It would be nice for them,” says Wolff.
But the Silver Arrows will not give the competition anything for free, as was already indicated on the first day of testing in Barcelona. Lewis Hamilton together with Valtteri Bottas gave the Silver Arrows a double lead. With his time of 1:16.976 minutes, the Briton was four tenths of a second ahead of the first pursuer, Sergio Perez at Racing Point.
And Ferrari? They were only eleventh with Charles Leclerc – 1.3 seconds behind the leader.
So it seems to be going well again with Mercedes, who with 173 laps drove more than any other team.
“We had a few weaknesses and looked at all the things in the car. Valtteri’s comments after the morning were positive”, Wolff emphasises.
“The car has more grip and feels good. This is a first good indicator.”
But it has to be stressed that Mercedes weren’t alone piling in lap after lap, all ten teams drove more than 100 laps today.
“The rules are stable, so you see fewer cars breaking down. They all have their test benches, which have been running over the winter”, Wolff explains.
“When you do the shakedown, you see that all screws are tightened properly. And then you bring the car here and drive. I think it’s the most reliable thing we’ve seen in years.” concludes Wolff.