Although Mercedes won the F1 season opener in Bahrain, the pace displayed by Red Bull throughout the weekend indicates that the RB16B is the fastest car on the grid right now.
But rather than Mercedes being reluctant about the task it now faces to close the gap with Red Bull, Wolff says the German automaker was genuinely reveling in the circumstances.
“In a way there is a feeling within the team that we really appreciate the new circumstances,” Wolff told Autosport. “And it is that, on paper, Red Bull is ahead with maybe its whole package.
“It’s up to them to lose, to us to win, because when you have the fastest car you have to take that into account.
“We have to catch up. We need to deploy our A-game and find more performance. But strictly speaking, we are second best on the road.
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Wolff said Mercedes has no trouble dealing with being behind their main rival in terms of pace. In fact, he felt it served to bring new energy and focus to everyone at Brackley.
“The fact that we are in the hunt is a lot of fun, because it’s a new situation, and we are taking this opportunity,” he said.
“It hasn’t been since 2013. And I loved 2013. I said in the team that I feel the same pump as when I joined the first time. And that was Red Bull’s dominance back then: they were just going to win the fourth championship.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Clarification of “ Talk shit ”
Wolff recently caused a stir when the comments attributed to him appeared to attack fellow F1 team bosses Zak Brown and Christian Horner.
In an interview with Austrian newspaper Osterreich, which has been widely translated into English, Wolff was asked what he thought of Brown’s comments that suggested Mercedes would have a whole new lineup of drivers in 2022.
Wolff reportedly said, “Brown is like Christian Horner. They just spread shit. I do not care.
This interpretation of what he said was seen by some as a blatant attack on his fellow team leaders.
However, Wolff made it clear that his comments were not accurate and that what he was saying was totally different.
“I have respect for both,” he said. “It was totally misquoted, and I think it literally got lost in the translation.
“I said, ‘they give each other a lot of shit’, and the way it was quoted is ‘they say shit to each other’, which isn’t quite the same.
“Zak is part of the Mercedes family and a friend. With all the jokes we have between ourselves, it’s not something I would accuse him of.
Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG and Zak Brown, Executive Director of McLaren
Photo By: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Wolff said team bosses having jokes between them was a vital element that attracted interest in F1 as it shows that the competitive battle between the teams is real.
“It’s very important because, in short, it’s the rivalry,” he added. “We operate in the same circus, and it has to provide entertainment for our fans and our audience.
“But there is also rivalry. Sometimes that can escalate into animosity, and that’s part of the sport. But we must not forget: it is only a sport. “