Mercedes holds strategy advantage over Verstappen – Wolff

Toto Wolff says Mercedes is on a par with Red Bull at Silverstone in terms of performance but the Brackley squad will have a strategy advantage over its rival and Max Verstappen in Sunday’s race.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will line up behind Verstappen on the British Grand Prix grid, but Sergio Perez’s absence from the first half of the field following his retirement from Saturday’s sprint race opens up some strategic opportunities for Mercedes.

“I think we have pace, if Lewis would have held his position at the beginning I think we would have pretty much had the same race, just with a Mercedes in front,” commented Wolff.

“That means we are equal in performance, and with two cars right there you can split the strategies.

“You can go long, you can try overcutting, you can try undercutting by starting on different tires. That is certainly a big advantage.

“It’s set up an interesting Grand Prix. It looks like tyre strategy can play a big part in these temperatures as well. So we will be aiming to fight back strong in the Grand Prix proper.”

©Mercedes

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said the reigning world champions would try and capitalize on the information learned from Saturday’s sprint qualifying event, especially where tyres are concerned.

“Having the sprint race today does make it a little easier to plan for tomorrow as you’ve got a clear idea of everyone’s pace and how the tyres are behaving so we have a bit of work this evening to take the maximum learning from that,” said Shov.

“Our goal was to come here, to win and to close the gap in the championship and I think from what we’ve seen over the last two days, that’s still an achievable target.”

    Read also: ‘Not good when you lose from P1’, admits Hamilton

Assessing Formula 1’s first ever sprint qualifying, Wolff reckoned it had been a credible maiden trial at Silverstone, although infused with a bit too much “randomness”.

“I think it’s entertaining for the crowds at the track,” he said. “A start is always interesting and good content and obviously Alonso was fun to watch, so I think overall it is a good add on.

“I don’t see it for every race, I think there is too much randomness. If you see Checo spinning out and then retiring, last is not the place that Sergio Perez should be.

“It could really work against you if you’re one of the front runners, but I think if the next few ones go like this one, I think it has a place in the calendar in a limited form.”

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