Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff is convinced his Formula 1 team is more on top of the tire situation than it was last year, despite a repeat of problems in the Australian Grand Prix.
Just as in 2012, Mercedes impressed in qualifying at Albert Park but could not maintain its pace throughout the whole race. While Lewis Hamilton held on to fifth place, the team knows that a better handle on its tires could have helped it do more. Yet Wolff has no doubts that Mercedes is ready to do better than it did 12 months ago.
"I think with Mercedes it is a bit better than it was last season," Wolff said. "But it seems you have to work even more for the Sunday than the Saturday. P7 on the grid [in Australia] won the race, while P1 struggled and finished third. So maybe it is much more about making a compromise on Saturday to get the car right for Sunday."
Wolff believes that the impact of tires is much greater than it was last year.
"Some teams seemed to have lost the plot completely," he said. "McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso don't seem to manage the tires at all; and then you have one of the Force Indias which does 80 percent a fantastic race and then drops out of any performance.
"For us, the option tire at the beginning of the race came back and it looked like we could easily do a two-stop strategy. But then we went on the prime tire and exactly the opposite happened, which is quite interesting."
Wolff thinks that this weekend's race in Malaysia is going to be an even bigger challenge than teams faced in Australia.
"It is going to get even more complex, because the heat is going to come," he said. "So we have to take that into consideration as well, and try to understand as much as possible. It will not be about understanding everything but understanding it the most."