(Motorsport-Total.com) – Formula 1 is slowly but surely also about sporty topics. The closer the game gets to Spielberg, the more the focus shifts. One of the big questions before the start of the season is who will be the favorite in the two races in Austria. World champion Mercedes does not see himself in pole position.
Both Mercedes drivers dropped out in Spielberg in 2018, last year Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton only finished third and fifth. Team principal Toto Wolff remembers: “The weaknesses last year were mainly due to the temperatures. We weren’t prepared for that. No idea how this will develop this year. The altitude is not for us.”
“It was always a compromise that we made. We opened the car a little more this year, a little more scope [bei der Temperatur] to have. But of course it’s not just a Mercedes race track from the track record, “says the Austrian, who is right, at least with regard to the past two years.
In the first four years after the Spielberg comeback in the 2014 season, however, they remained unbeaten there. “The key issue is really durability,” explains Wolff with reference to 2020 and remembers: “We couldn’t test it. We have three free practice sessions to try and get on with the car.” Because no race was driven in 2020.
Marko sees a few more question marks
“We also have car upgrades that were planned for this second third of the half of the season, that are ready to be done on the car. But of course all that with relatively little time. Unlike Formula 1, where everything is already done has been tested very carefully, we will use the free training sessions in Spielberg to better understand the car, “explains Wolff.
In addition, it is about “making solid points” so as not to fall behind the competition in the World Cup. Max Verstappen won in Spielberg in 2018 and 2019, which is why Helmut Marko optimistically explains at ‘RTL’: “Mercedes was never strong here, always had problems here. But we don’t know the balance of power.”
“Testing is deceptive and disguised, as we know. Melbourne never happened. We come here with versions that are untested in the updates because we practically skipped two levels. The Honda engine was still high better. The development has continued. But we don’t know, “said Marko.
“We only know that Ferrari was not at the level of Mercedes and Red Bull in the tests. But maybe they could catch up in the meantime,” said the Austrian. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, however, immediately rejects it. He told Marca: “We couldn’t do so much because the factories were closed for so long.”
Ferrari sees itself as a chaser
“There was no way to develop the car,” Binotto recalls. At Ferrari one tries, “the weak points [am Auto] to iron out, “said the team manager.” But we are where we were in Australia. In Austria it will be a very similar car “, he clarifies and explains:” The development will come later. “
If the impressions of the winter tests are confirmed, then this would mean that Ferrari will definitely not travel to Austria as a favorite. “So I don’t expect that we will have the fastest car in Austria,” says Binotto, who is more concerned with limiting damage. The goal is to take “as many points as possible” in Spielberg.
“I think we will see the real potential of the car after three races,” announced the Ferrari team boss, who also reminded that it would be “difficult” because of the new rules to improve the car afterwards. At the same time he is also combative and explains that it is “not impossible”.
But it is also clear that you shouldn’t lose too many points to your competitors at the start of the season, because nobody currently knows how long the season will go at all. “Since I assume that the first eight races in Europe are fixed – that would be enough for a World Cup – you have to be fully involved from the first race and get the most out of it,” says Marko.
Why a good start in 2020 is particularly important
“The overseas races are countries that are currently at great risk from Corona,” he says, explaining: “These races are planned, but whether they will actually take place is in the stars. That is why we want to be full from the first race to attack. ” Otherwise it might be too late to start catching up afterwards.
Especially since Red Bull makes no secret of wanting to win the World Cup this year. 2020 is the last year in which Max Verstappen could replace Sebastian Vettel as the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history. “We worked for a long time, we always had setbacks,” Marko recalls.
“But we now have a solid engine supplier with Honda, and we learned from past mistakes. The main reason was that we were only really competitive in the middle of the season. Now we start in the middle of the season, and our preparation is also much better been, “explains the Austrian.
“Mercedes and Hamilton are clearly the favorites, but we see ourselves as the first and more serious challenger,” said Marko. Incidentally, the fact that the season starts in Spielberg and thus on a track on which Red Bull has recently won twice in a row does not matter. “I think the best team with the best car [die Meisterschaft] will win, “said Binotto.