Wolff: When the flag drops, the bulls**t stops

Pre-season testing may have gone in Mercedes’ favour but Toto Wolff concedes racing is very different and his team will have to climb “Mount Everest” to hold off Ferrari and Red Bull.

This season the Mercedes motorsport boss believes Mercedes will be part of a three-team battle for the championships with Red Bull expected to enter the fray.

But while it was Ferrari who topped the time sheets in pre-season testing, it is Mercedes and Red Bull who showed better long-run pace.

Wolff said: “We’re excited to go racing again.

“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 bullsh*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.”

But while the Austrian acknowledges that Mercedes had a very good pre-season, covering the most laps of all the teams, he concedes that racing is a different beast to testing.

“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,” he added. “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.”

This season Mercedes are chasing their fifth successive championship double having won the title three years with Hamilton and one with Nico Rosberg.

“We will tackle this new season with the same dedication, team spirit and energy that has made us strong in the past. Each of us has the mindset that last year’s Championships belong in the past; yesterday’s trophies don’t win today’s games.

“A new season feels like climbing Mount Everest – we’ve done it successfully in the past, but we’re only in the base camp at the moment. It will be a tough journey, with the same target, but different challenges to master along the way. Right now, we start this long season on zero points like every one of our rivals. And we have to give it everything to be successful again this year.”

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