Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Mercedes is playing down talk it could repeat its victory of a year ago, with Nico Rosberg.
“One year on from Nico’s win, a lot of people will be asking whether this is something our team can repeat in 2013,” said Toto Wolff, Mercedes executive director. “But like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us.
“We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tire compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track next weekend. The development race will be critical this season so we have more new parts planned for China. Then we will see where we stand relative to the competition.”
Team manager Ross Brawn echoed his new colleague’s sentiments.
“Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development,” Brawn said. “A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.
“The circuit itself is challenging with fast curves, tight corners and two hairpins. The layout requires good straightline speed, braking stability and traction, and the temperatures are likely to be cooler than we have experienced in the first two race weekends.”
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”