Formula 1

Too early to tell if Nico Rosberg holds upper hand at Mercedes - Toto Wolff

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Toto Wolff insists it is "too early" to determine whether Nico Rosberg holds the upper hand over Lewis Hamilton in this year's Formula One World Championship race.

Rosberg claimed his fifth-successive victory - a run which stretches back to last season - after benefitting from Hamilton's sluggish start and subsequent first-corner collision with Valtteri Bottas of Williams.

Hamilton, now yet to win a race since his triumph at the title-clinching United States Grand Prix in October, nursed his damaged car to third to leave him 17 points adrift of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg after the opening two rounds.


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"Every race we have a discussion about momentum swinging in one direction or the other," said Mercedes boss Wolff.

"Clearly Nico has had a massive run and he has won the last five races. He is leading the championship and that is a fact.

"But Lewis was on pole, he didn't get off the line well and had a collision with Valtteri.

"It is is too early days - two races of 21 - so, I wouldn't want to say that the momentum is on one side."

Hamilton's slow start

Hamilton sustained damage to the front wing and floor of his Mercedes after Bottas slammed into him at the first corner.

The Briton dropped to ninth following the coming together and, according to Wolff, was one-second-a-lap slower as a result of the damage sustained. Bottas was deemed at fault by the stewards for the crash.

Wolff added: "Valtteri got the drive-through so the FIA judged it to be his fault.

"Clearly the manoeuvre was ambitious and he was probably too far away to overtake but there was a gap, so if I would attribute percentages at fault it was probably 80-20."

Wolff and his fellow team bosses will this week vote on a new qualifying format tabled by FIA president Jean Todt and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone to replace the troubled system which was hastily introduced for 2016.

"We have a political mess going on out there," said Wolff. "All the teams had the same opinion, to go back to the 2015 format, but there are various agendas and this morning's meeting proved that it is not an easy one."

Asked why the sport cannot reach a unanimous verdict on the correct path forward for qualifying, Wolff replied: "Simple explanation? Madness."

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