Formula 1

Mercedes set for early season advantage

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Mercedes will be the team to beat at the start of the 2014 season – that is the claim of former team owner Gian Carlo Minardi.

After being touted as the most likely team to threaten Red Bull’s recent supremacy over the winter, the Silver Arrows proved those right, accumulating the most mileage of any team.

Indeed the predicted advantage in the engine department appears to be coming true as all Mercedes-powered cars were near the top of the distance covered and lap times lists with only the works Ferrari keeping them honest.

“For me,” Minardi is quoted by Speed Week, “it is clear that Mercedes has the edge, but Ferrari also started very solidly.

“Of course, no conclusive judgements are possible, and I’m curious to see how the cars behave in the warmer temperatures in Bahrain.

“But with Mercedes I not only feel that they are furthest along with their work, but also that they are working extremely closely with the partner teams,” the Italian added, referring to the similarly Mercedes-powered McLaren, Williams and Force India.

Despite his praise however, Minardi does have some concerns generally about the sport’s new V6 turbo era as he believes the races will be more endurance like in the style.

“We have cars that could be as slow as GP2 cars in the races,” he said, “and the winner will be who is most economical with his fuel, not necessarily the fastest.

“These are aspects that could drive away some true fans,” he added.

Finally Minardi revealed his confidence in the speculation linking Italian drinks company Martini with a partnership with Williams.

Part of any deal could see the FW36 re-launched as the team sheds its traditional dark blue testing colours, for the famous white, blue and red of the Martini brand.

“When I got Ferrari engines in 1991, I was on the verge of an agreement with the same company, but unfortunately nothing came of it,” said Minardi

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Formula 1

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