FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

Toto Wolff says its dangerous for Mercedes to make assumptions about Belgian GP pace

Toto Wolff says Mercedes has had enough harsh lessons in 2017 so far to automatically assume it will be the team to beat at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Formula One is ready to resume the season after a four-week summer break, with Mercedes leading the constructors’ but its drivers trailing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the other championship. Mercedes spent much of the first half of the year taming a car Wolff himself labelled a “diva” and welcomed the timing of the break, which followed a Ferrari one-two at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“The summer shutdown came at the perfect time for us to make a step back and take stock of our season so far,” Wolff said. “It has been a good one — and has shown a lot of the qualities of our team.

“We have overcome a difficult start to testing and significantly improved a fast but tricky car; we have won six races from 11, including victories for both our drivers; we trail in one championship by 14 points, and lead the other by 39. But it hasn’t been easy sailing. We have learned hard lessons, grown strong as a group and there are still many areas for us to keep improving.”

The high-speed nature of the next two circuits, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, should suit Mercedes, as the world champions still appear to hold the edge over Ferrari in outright engine power. Wolff is refusing to believe anything until he has seen cars on track.

“From what we have seen in the first half of the season, the competitive balance will swing one way and another from circuit to circuit. Red Bull will be a threat if they can build on the performance they showed in Hungary. So we need to keep our heads down, stay humble regarding our strengths, diligent about our weaknesses and take the season weekend by weekend.

“On paper, people will assume that Spa should suit our car because it is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency is extremely important. But assumptions are dangerous – we have seen too many times already this season that the form book can be rewritten from one weekend to the next. So we will be making no assumptions; we have to tick off the items on our work list and make sure we do the best job to maximise our potential points score.

“The motivation and determination in the factory are greater than ever. Hungary showed the strength of our team – and we intend to use the second half of this season to prove that strength.”