Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that Red Bull will have a “strategic advantage” over them in today’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as their two drivers will be on differing strategies and Sir Lewis Hamilton will be outnumbered.
Hamilton took pole position on Saturday after Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen both made mistakes on their final Q3 runs, but they will line up right behind the seven-time World Champion in P2 and P3, respectively.
And, with Valtteri Bottas qualifying down the order eighth on the grid, Hamilton could struggle to fend off the two Red Bulls, especially as Perez will be starting on a different compound of tyre to him and Verstappen.
Speaking after qualifying, Wolff said he believes Red Bull could benefit from having an “offset strategy” in the grand prix.
“It is an advantage they have. You would normally say that starting on the soft is not as good but here it is an offset strategy and it’s not worse than starting on the medium,” the Mercedes team principal said.
“So, for sure, with two cars we know that it’s always an advantage and the offset strategies give them another shot.”
Continuing, Wolff said he believes that despite Mercedes improving their package, Red Bull still have better pace than them.
“Clearly, Lewis’ lap today was very good. We have worked hard to sort out some of the balance issues that we had in Bahrain and I think we made a decent step on that.
“The drivability of the power unit has got better and the track conditions are obviously very different to the ones in Bahrain, so all of that played a certain factor.
“But if you one-for-one compare the laps to Red Bull, Max without the mistake would have been on pole. Solid on pole. Maybe not as much as Bahrain, but he would have been there,” he concluded.