Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has promised to bring the fight to Red Bull in their home race at the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria this weekend. The Silver Arrows have slipped behind their rivals in the Constructors’ Championship standings, with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen winning each of the last three races between them.
The latter also leads Lewis Hamilton by 15 points at the summit of the Drivers’ Championship and will be looking to extend his advantage at Spielberg on Sunday.
The Dutchman looks set to push his Mercedes counterpart, who is vying for a record-breaking eighth world title, all the way in this year’s battle for glory.
Red Bull have taken the season by storm, with their highly competitive RB16B challenger edging ahead of the Mercedes W12 in terms of outright performance and race pace.
The German outfit now appear to have a genuine challenge on their hands for the first time in a long while, and Wolff is determined to start chipping away at their points deficit by returning to the top step of the podium in Austria.
Mercedes were edged out by Red Bull once again in their previous outing at the French Grand Prix, but the 49-year-old has stressed that some harsh lessons have been learnt as they go into this weekend’s race aiming to slow Verstappen’s progress at the top of the standings.
JUST IN: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton told to expect ‘even tougher time’ in Austria
“We’ve debriefed France and understand the areas where we have the opportunity to improve,” said Wolff in his column for the Mercedes website.
“So, now it’s all about focusing on bringing those improvements to the next two rounds in Austria, where hopefully we can swing the positive momentum back in our favour.
“Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long for our next chance to try and do that and I can see the determination in every member of the team.
“Austria has been a tricky circuit for us in past seasons, but we went well there last year. We know the situation is very different this season, though.
“It’s a very quick lap and a short circuit, with fewer opportunities to gain time. The margins are going to be tight, so we’ll give it maximum attack!”
Spielberg currently plays host to the shortest lap time on the F1 calendar, with 78 per cent of it spent at full throttle.
Honda engines have powered Red Bull to victory at four of this year’s seven races, and the home team will be hoping for another successful outcome this time around.
Meanwhile, Hamilton recently suggested that Mercedes could be in for another difficult weekend given the likelihood of the track layout playing into the hands of their rivals.
“It’s a power-hungry circuit,” said the 36-year-old after claiming second place at the French Grand Prix.
“It’s got those long, long straights, so we could see something similar [to France], obviously with the straight-line speed of the Red Bull.
“But we’ve got three days to try and see if we can make any adjustments and improvements. And maybe, if we maximise absolutely everything, maybe we can give them a run for their money.”
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