Formula 1

F1 Chief Bernie Ecclestone tipped Nico Rosberg to become champion (©GettyImages)
F1 Chief Bernie Ecclestone tipped Nico Rosberg to become champion (©GettyImages).

Mercedes cautious despite positive V6 debut

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Mercedes have admitted they were “cautious” in the opening pre-season test at Jerez despite completing over 250 laps.

As the new V6 turbo era officially got underway last week it was the W05 that impressed the most with excellent reliability mixed with decent speed.

Though distinguishing a pecking order is always close to impossible during testing, most have already placed Mercedes as favourites for the 2014 title, particularly after the woes seen at Red Bull.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone also had his say on how he thinks this season will unfold.

“Anything can happen under the new regulations,” the F1 chief executive told the Indo-Asian News Service this week. “So I would not want to comment much on what could happen this season.

“The way things worked out at Jerez, Mercedes seem best prepared to succeed with (Nico) Rosberg winning the title,” Ecclestone added.

Despite the praise, the Anglo-German team is far from hyping up their chances despite their great achievements in Jerez, one of which was completing a full race simulation.

“It was more than we expected with the debut of the new power unit,” Toto Wolff told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But we are cautious.

“Our integrated approach brought benefits to the operation of the systems and reliability, and supplying four teams helps us to collect information,” he said.

“But only in Melbourne will we evaluate the performance.”

Indeed the early indications from Jerez suggest only Ferrari can realistically challenge the Mercedes-powered teams as McLaren and Williams notably also impressed at the Spanish circuit.

“At this stage (yes),” Wolff admitted when asked if he thought Mercedes had an advantage, “but certainly in the long term I would say no.

Mercedes’ Commercial Chief also had his say on the noise of the new V6 era, while some are getting to grips with the deeper sound; Wolff believes any early fears will go away.

“I think the engines sound great on the straights,” Wolff told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Mainly because you can even hear the hissing of the turbo.

“I like it, and the critics will get used to it – it’s a spectacular, modern sound.”

The Austrian weighed into the debate over who has the best driver pairing in 2014, claiming that while Ferrari may have the so-called ‘superteam’ with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, he is very happy with his two drivers.

“Our pair is better!” Wolff proclaimed. “The other two (Alonso-Raikkonen) are strong, but I would not trade Hamilton and Rosberg for anyone in the world.”

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