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Wolff plays down Melbourne defeat

Toto Wolff has calmed fears that Mercedes has finally been overtaken as F1’s top team.

In Australia, Mercedes was beaten by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who carried over a winter of promise into the 2017 race season.

But some think triple back-to-back world champion Mercedes is in fact still the best team overall, which is a sentiment apparently shared by its boss Wolff.

“We should not dramatise the current situation,” he told Germany’s Sport Bild.

“The car is competitive, and there are many areas where we have potential for improvement.”

Indeed, one of them is the overall weight of the 2017 Mercedes, with Wolff insisting: “The result in Melbourne was a small wake-up call for us.

“It showed that we no longer have room for manoeuvre and must be perfect in every detail. That is motivating us.”

And amid Mercedes’ resolve to hit back, Wolff said the team relishes the forthcoming battle with Ferrari.

“It is always more exciting to fight against others,” he said, “because opponents always have quite different strengths and weaknesses.

“Ferrari has a strong team and has developed a good chassis-engine package. And Sebastian’s performance speaks for itself.”

Wolff is also confident that in triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes has what it needs to succeed in 2017.

“We are currently experiencing the best Lewis Hamilton I have ever seen. He is fully motivated and his performance is incredible.

“After the internal team pressure of the last few years, the fight against another team is a new challenge that he accepts gladly,” Wolff added.

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