Mercedes: ‘no margin for mistakes’ in 2018

Mercedes-AMG F1 have admitted there is no margin for mistakes in the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship after not acquiring the results it had hoped for in the opening two rounds.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel beat the Brackley-based operation to victory at both the Australian and Bahrain Grand Prix, leaving Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to pick up the pieces.

The pair now sit second and third in the championship standings after two rounds, with Hamilton 17 points adrift of championship leader Vettel.

“This is not the start to the 2018 season we had hoped for,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“For two races in a row, we did damage limitation with one car and lost the win with the other.

“Both races were decided by fine margins, but that doesn’t make it any better; in fact, it probably makes it more frustrating. 

“The competition is extremely close in 2018 and Melbourne was already a strong reminder that there is absolutely no margin for imperfections or mistakes in this year’s title fight.

“While we saw a completely different race in Bahrain and lost for different reasons, the message stayed the same: In order to win this year, we need to bring our A game. 

A system bug cost Hamilton the win in Australia, while Bottas was left to recover after crashing in Qualifying.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Hamilton was forced to start from ninth after copping a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, ultimately working his way to third at the chequered flag.

Bottas, who sat second, chased down Vettel in the closing stages after Ferrari took a gamble on strategy to run long on its second stint, however the Finn’s efforts proved fruitless at the line.

“I think our team showed the right reaction after the chequered flag in Bahrain,” explained Wolff.

“Instead of being satisfied with the double podium finish, everyone realised that P2 and P3 was the minimum result we should expect with both Red Bulls and Kimi out of the race.

“So we started to analyse what went wrong in Bahrain in order to improve for China and come back stronger. 

 “We’re quite happy that this is a back-to-back race as that means that we won’t have to wait long to get racing again.

“Shanghai has been a good track for us in the past, so hopefully we will get the chance to right some of the wrongs of the past weeks and show a performance that is worthy of Mercedes.”

The Chinese Grand Prix gets underway on Friday with opening practice at 12:00pm AEST.