Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff is sceptical about the impact of the 2017 F1 regulations on his outfit, having set “aggressive targets” for its new car.
Mercedes arrive in 2017 on the back of three successive world champions, but a major rule overhaul has the potential to bring an end to its winning streak.
Wolff is aware of the velocity of the changes and admits that is too early to predict where Mercedes will be in the pecking order come the Australian Grand Prix in March.
“When there is such a regulation change, it gives opportunities and risks,’’ he said in an interview for Mercedes’ official website. “We have set aggressive targets for where we think the car should be going to. Also the engine.
“We’re pushing flat-out to achieve those targets. Will those targets be enough or will other teams come out of the blocks better than we do - we don’t know. Whether there is a regulation change or not, it’s always a time of year when we’re sceptical, whether we’ve done a good enough job,’’ he added.
Since 2013, Mercedes has had to deal with an intense intra-team rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as the two drivers went head-to-head for the championship.
After Rosberg retired from F1 in a shock post-season announcement, the German manufacturer has now been tasked with integrating multiple-podium finisher Valtteri Bottas into the team.
But Wolff believes that not only Bottas is the perfect replacement for Rosberg, he is also getting along well with Hamilton.
“The balance between Valtteri and Lewis works,’’ he said. “They are too very different personalities and for us it was important to fill Nico’s shoes. Nico had a certain role in the team and Valtteri pretty much fits into that.”
“We believe the interaction and dynamics between the two drivers is going to work well. So far, what I have seen, Valtteri has settled in well.”
by Rachit Thukral