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Mercedes sees ‘promising’ signs ahead of Australia F1

AFP

A cautiously optimistic Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team has made “promising” progress since the first two Grand Prix of the season, with another solid points haul on his wish list for Melbourne this weekend.

On the high-speed, power-friendly Jeddah track a fortnight ago, there were distinct signs of life as Mercedes left Ferrari floundering, with George Russell finishing fourth and Lewis Hamilton fifth.

It was a clear improvement from the season-opening race in Bahrain, where they offered little competition to the Ferrari, Aston Martin or victorious Red Bull teams.

While they remain well adrift of the dominant Red Bull team, Wolff said their W14 car was improving.

“The progress we saw in Saudi Arabia was encouraging. We maximised the package we had and scored some solid points,” he said late Wednesday. 

“More importantly, we continued to learn and understand more about the W14 and our development direction. Everyone back at base has been hard at work to turn these learnings into performance.”

“The signs we are seeing back at the factory are promising,” he added. 

“We have got to take it step by step, though, and won’t get carried away until we see performance translated into lap time on track.”

Mercedes won eight successive constructors’ titles before Red Bull claimed the crown last year, with seven-time world champion Hamilton currently enduring the longest winless run of his record-breaking career.

Wolff admitted “a significant gap” still remained between Mercedes and Red Bull “and that is ultimately what we are interested in closing”.

“As always, we will look to maximise the car we have, and score as many points as our potential currently allows,” he said of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at the fast Albert Park circuit.

“We are not where we want to be, but that won’t stop us from racing hard and giving it everything we’ve got.”

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