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Toto Wolff: & # 34; New Mercedes not super-conservative & # 34;

Wolfgang Wilhelm
Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff
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How did the winter go at Mercedes?

W olff: Relatively good for us, from the point of view of the design office and the preparation. The organization is now in good working order, the infrastructure is right, the resources are used correctly and we have a relative stability in the regulations. The difficulty that arises from this is that the learning curve is flattening out. If the regulations remain unchanged, it will be more and more difficult to gain a lot of lap time. Both the chassis and the engine. It is important to ensure that the direction of development is correct. In this respect, I am optimistic that we have gone in the right direction.

Will the new car be an evolution or a revolution?

Wolff: Because of the stable regulations there will only be visible changes in a few areas. It is important to understand that. There have been plenty of examples in the past where teams have tried to reinvent themselves instead of implementing an evolution while maintaining the same rules. Often in the good faith that they had reached the end of development and that they had to break new ground in order to extract more potential from the car. I think that happened to McLaren between 2012 and 2013. In short: our car is an evolution based on last year's model with one or the other new and interesting concept. But since we haven't seen the competition, it is difficult to estimate what the gaps will be.

Nevertheless, at the end of last season, you said the engineers had changed set very ambitious goals. How is that to be understood?

Wolff: We haven't followed entirely new development paths, but we haven't remained super-conservative either. We tried to weigh up between evolution and revolution. We already worked in this direction in autumn 2015 at the last races. We learned a lot there, especially on the subject of mechanical setup. And that flows into the 2016 car.

What does the timetable look like? Were the crash tests passed?

Wolff: All crash tests passed. We are happy about itbecause that is not a matter of course in the constant search for aerodynamic efficiency and weight reduction of the chassis.

In Barcelona you will recognize at first glance that this is the new Mercedes trade?

Wolff: Maybe you won't see great news at first glance at the first Barcelona test. You have to be an expert. From the second Barcelona test onwards, however, one or the other new part will be added to the car, which is obviously a difference.

So the same strategy as last year?

Wolff: Right. The first test is about collecting data, verifying the wind tunnel values, that the cooling and hydraulics are running smoothly and that we are unwinding kilometers. In the second Barcelona test, we will take a step towards lap time.

Is there any fear that Ferrari has gained an aerodynamic advantage in interaction with HaasF1?

Wolff: We have to leave the church in the village. This is about sport, and it needs competition and the fight on the track. So we look at it with one laughing and one crying eye. Ferrari has taken intelligent steps in its cooperation with HaasF1, and it could well be that performance has emerged from it. If that happens, you have done everything right. That brings with it a certain uncertainty factor. Normally you can extrapolate how much lap time a team will find over the winter with stable rules. Then there are also best case and worst case scenarios. If, however, variables come into play that cannot be precisely estimated, be it through cooperation with another team, be it through surprising developments such as the double diffuser at the time, then you have to bring the necessary skepticism with you and be on your guard. I want to be careful not to give an assessment before the Barcelona Test. But Ferrari is to be expected.

There are rumors that Mercedes will do the same with Manor based on the Ferrari model. Is that correct?

Wolff: We have to keep all options open. If there are ways of working together between two teams within the regulations that bring performance, then they have to be explored. I am not entirely convinced whether it is the right direction for Formula 1 when the big racing teams bring in B-teams, which then try out certain development directions. In 2017 we have a major change in the regulations ahead of us. Something like that can be worth gold. Working with another team could save you one or two failures. Assaid: I don't think it's right in terms of philosophy.

Is Manor now the Mercedes B team?

Wolff: No. But in addition to Pascal Wehrlein, they also use one of our wind tunnels.

The 2016 engine was anticipated with the Monza package. Did that make work easier over the winter?

Wolff: That was very good for us. Because we saw certain weaknesses and were able to verify one or the other direction of development. Is that enough? We'll see.

Last winter there were nasty surprises for the engine manufacturers. Mercedes had problems with the liners, Ferrari with the blocks. Do you have to fear further bad news with the leaps in performance?

Wolff: You always move on the border between performance gain and stability. This is the eye of the needle through which everyone has to go. You have to find the right mix. So again this time we will see development steps over the course of the year. But only when everything is covered by the appropriate kilometers on the racetrack. The test bench is one thing. But it cannot replace mileage on the track with multiple vehicles from multiple teams. We will approach the performance limits in order not to run into reliability problems right at the beginning.

So you will save tokens again?

Wolff: You catch me on the wrong foot. I don't know the latest status.

Five engines for 21 races makes the task easier compared to over four for 19 races?

Wolff: That means a fifth engine for every team and every car. And that's real cost. I'm not sure if the inventor wanted the 21st race to require the fifth engine. There is a risk that a manufacturer will invest tens of millions in this fifth engine in order to get real performance out of it.

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