Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff has warned the Red Bull F1 team that the Silver Arrows will be bringing their "spicy" engine to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Mercedes' trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin also believes the Jeddah Corniche Circuit is more likely to suit them than their rivals.
Speaking after the Qatar Grand Prix, Wolff warned his rivals of their new engine. He told Sky Sports:
“Saudi should be a good track for us, but we know this year, when you think it’s a good one, it can turn the other way around. It is long straights and we will get our spicy equipment out: the engine for Saudi Arabia.”
The Mercedes team principal was referring to their Brazil Grand Prix engine which Lewis Hamilton had used to win the race. The performance advantage it provided allowed the Brit to overtake the competition with incredible precision and speed.
Hamilton had switched back to his old engine for the Qatar Grand Prix, however, and Mercedes plan to bring the Brazil engine to the last two races on the calendar.
Explaining what to expect from Mercedes in the next two races in terms of performance, Andrew Shovlin said:
“We'll likely need to win both races, but we've got good reason to think our strong form from here can carry into the next two. It's a big push to the finish from here but we're looking forward to the fight and can't wait to get back on track in Saudi Arabia.”
Shovlin mentioned that Mercedes had a "mixed bag" result in Qatar, with Valtteri Bottas’ retirement, and he expects the fight to be close over the next two races. While the Mercedes engineer said in a press release that he is optimistic that the Jeddah circuit will suit Mercedes more, he is also optimistic about the package they have with their car.
Mercedes and Red Bull F1 team separated by narrow margin in championship
While both Wolff and Shovlin expect the next two races to play into their favor, Mercedes lead Red Bull F1 by a very small margin of five points. The Silver Arrows have a total of 546.5 points while the Milton Keynes outfit have 541.5. Bottas' retirement, Max Verstappen's second-place podium and Sergio Perez's fourth-placed finish helped Red Bull F1 slice into their rival's lead.
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While Mercedes bring their new engine, Red Bull F1 have reportedly solved a DRS issue they faced in Sao Paolo and Qatar. The Milton Keynes team have a new DRS activator that might even give them more speed on the straights in the final two races on the calendar. Therefore, it is going to be a close fight between the two teams and their drivers until the last race in Abu Dhabi.