Mercedes ready to fight Ferrari, Red Bull for 2018 F1 title

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is expecting the 2018 Formula One season to be a tense three-way battle between his team, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Pre-season testing suggested F1's top three are closely matched on raw pace, although Mercedes is still expected to be the car to beat at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Mercedes beat Ferrari to the 2017
world championship and Wolff is certain Red Bull will be involved in the battle this year.

"We're excited to go racing again," Wolff said. "Everything we've done over the past months were just the first steps on the road to start our 2018 campaign - from the first build of the car to the first fire-up, from the launch in Silverstone to testing in Barcelona. Now, it's time to find out what we've got: like the old saying goes, when the flag drops, the bulls--t stops.

"Last year, the competition was very close and there was no moment where we could afford to relax. Ferrari put up a very tough fight and we had a proper battle between silver and red. This year promises to bring an exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull. Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has worked extremely hard over the past months to make sure we enter that fight with the best machine possible."

Although Mercedes did not show anything close to the maximum of its one-lap pace, it impressed observers with the race simulations completed during the Barcelona tests. Wolff believes it is foolish to make too many assumptions based on the winter performance of the Mercedes W09.

"Both our drivers seem reasonably happy with our new car, but it remains yet to be seen how well it performs when driven in anger. The reduction in the number of power unit components means that reliability will again play an important role in 2018.

"Our reliability in testing looked good but we need to be careful to draw any conclusions from that - despite getting some good mileage with the new car in Barcelona, many of its components have not even come close to the life they need to complete during the season."


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