Mercedes returns to Austria following set-up experimentation

The F1 world championship continues this weekend in Austria

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff hopes his squad will be better placed for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix following experimentation at the same circuit last weekend.

The Anglo-German operation is in the midst of its longest victory drought – four races to be exact – since the turbo-hybrid era was launched in 2014.

All four of those races have been won by arch-rival Red Bull, including three going the way of championship leader Max Verstappen.

Heading into the second leg of a double-header at the Red Bull Ring, Wolff indicated he was in fact pleased with how the recent Styrian Grand Prix played out.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas made it a two-three for the team, the latter holding off a hard-charging Sergio Perez.

“Last weekend, we maximised the opportunities available to us and despite not having the quickest car, took a solid double podium and a good haul of points,” said Wolff.

“Every time we hit the track; we race to win. But, while we missed out on the top step of the podium last time out, there was still plenty to be encouraged by.

“Our drivers performed well, our pit stops were excellent, and our strategy calls were strong.

“We head back to the Styrian mountains this weekend with another big challenge on our hands but running on the same circuit on consecutive weekends brings opportunity too.”

He’s hopeful that set-up work done during Friday practice for the Styrian Grand Prix will have flow-on benefits for this coming weekend.

“We had an experimental Friday with the car set-up last weekend, and we hope to arrive to FP1 this weekend with the car in a happier place, ready to build from there,” Wolff continued.

“The tyre compounds are also a step softer this weekend, so that will bring a new challenge for all the teams and fresh possibilities in terms of strategy.”

Despite momentum being firmly with Red Bull, Mercedes isn’t about to let up in their pursuit of eighth successive drivers’ and teams’ titles.

“This championship is a heavyweight contest over 23 rounds, and we’re just over a third of the way through,” Wolff added.

“There are many opportunities to come and it’s still all to play for, so we’re excited for Round 9.”

Free Practice 1 for the Austrian Grand Prix will start at 19:30 AEST on Friday.

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