Mercedes boss admits it will be ‘very difficult’ to beat Ferrari in Russia

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff saw his cars qualify third and fourth on Saturday. (Photo : Steve Etherington/LAT Images)
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Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff admits that the World Champions will struggle to beat Ferrari in the Russian GP.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen locked out the front row slots, leaving Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in third and fourth. The starting positions, and the impressive race run form of Ferrari, has left Wolff expecting a tough Sunday.

“I’m always on the pessimistic side,” he said. “I was skeptical if we could win races starting from pole and having had very good long runs. But the data sets that exist at the moment, they don’t give me an overwhelming feeling, but the race is tomorrow, and it’s the moment where you need to perform.

“Yesterday was not a very good day for us. The only positive was Valtteri’s long run, that once after a couple of laps his tires fell into the right window his pace was actually equal to the Ferrari pace. That is something to be optimistic about. Nevertheless, we have seen that they have been very strong on race pace in these last races, so I think that we will do whatever is in our hands to win the race. But it is going to be very difficult.”

Wolff thinks that Bottas had the pace to be on pole, if the Finn had been able to put all his best sectors together.

“I’m very happy with Valtteri’s performance today. Sochi is a track that has suited him in the Williams years, probably suits his driving style, it’s a very smooth circuit. Balance-wise he felt more at ease with the balance than Lewis, and he wasn’t too far off from pole position. If he wouldn’t have done that little mistake of pushing in Q3 he could have been on pole, but could have been doesn’t count in this sport.

“And we also have to find out why the balance on Lewis’s car wasn’t right, not good enough for him. As much as I am happy about the steps we have found, it was not good enough to be on pole today, and confidence for tomorrow – it’s very difficult.”