Mercedes vs Ferrari: Toto Wolff hopes for a podium finish at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in battle for second place
Watch the funniest moments from the Las Vegas Grand Prix, including the three words Shaquille O’Neal said to Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz while wearing an impressive tuxedo!
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hopes the team will be quick enough to return to the podium at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where they aim to overtake Ferrari for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Mercedes’ lead over its Italian rivals was reduced to just four points – the same as it was after the opening race of the 2023 season in Bahrain in March – after a Las Vegas GP race day that did not go its way despite the W14 showing a lot – Improved race pace compared to the previous race in Brazil.
Lewis Hamilton, who finished seventh, lost ground twice in unfortunate collisions while George Russell saw fourth place turned into eighth with a five-second penalty for a collision with Max Verstappen.
Ferrari finished second with Charles Leclerc and sixth with Carlos Sainz, meaning they edged Mercedes by 16 points to put themselves within striking distance in the Abu Dhabi finals standings on Sunday.
“It’s sad to say again that we had the pace but didn’t get the result,” Wolff said. Sky Sports F1 About Mercedes Las Vegas GP.
“George after the incident with Verstappen, where he got the penalty, it was almost over. (The car) had speed at the front. Maybe not (to challenge) Max, but at the back. That’s how it is.”
“We had a fast pace today,” Wolff added in Abu Dhabi. “I think we hope we can recover and score strong podiums.”
George Russell and Max Verstappen collided and debris was spread everywhere, eventually leading to a safety car
Two years after the controversial end of the 2021 drivers’ title race in Abu Dhabi, when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton started level on points, Wolff, in a veiled swipe at former race director Michael Masi, added to the written media: ‘We’ll go there with almost equal points. – With the right race director, so that should be good – and let’s race.
“It all goes back to last weekend. They are very fast, they did a good job. I think we could have been on par (in the Las Vegas race) but the result shows something different. So let’s race.”
“To be honest, it’s nice for second place to be a positive point to end the season, but second and third for me, it doesn’t make it any better.”
Mercedes vs Ferrari in Formula 1 2023
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With Red Bull in complete control this season, Mercedes and Ferrari – winners of 24 constructors’ titles between them – have had to review their pre-season targets downwards, each trying to secure at least the next best place, if even that is possible. Wolff hints that finishing second will ultimately be no cause for particular celebration.
But as well as sporting pride, there are useful prize money considerations too – the difference between second and third place in the Constructors’ Championship is thought to be around $10 million.
The best of the action from the eventful Las Vegas Grand Prix
Since overtaking hot-starting Aston Martin into second place in the team standings at the Spanish Grand Prix last June, Mercedes has seen its lead over third place fluctuate in an unpredictable hierarchy this season from race to race behind Red Bull.
Ferrari was 56 points behind Mercedes after the Hungarian Grand Prix last July, but has narrowed that gap to just four points in the 10 races since then.
After a difficult start to the year, team boss Frederic Vasseur said the way the points gap has been narrowed shows Ferrari is on a “good path”. But he also explained that while things in Vegas went well for them, “Abu Dhabi will be another story.”
“Four points is nothing or a lot,” Vasseur added.
“We were able to perform at Monza, in Singapore, in Austin, in Mexico, during this weekend on different tracks with different race conditions, different (tire) compounds, and we can be more than excited before Abu Dhabi.
Charles Leclerc blames safety car for his second-place finish in Las Vegas Grand Prix and says ‘today should have been our day’
“The momentum is on our side and let’s see what happens.”
The battle is a reversal of last year when it was Ferrari who defended second place to Mercedes in the Abu Dhabi final, despite having a 19-point lead. However, Scuderia outlasted its rivals at Yas Marina to confirm runner-up Red Bull.
What car is suitable for Abu Dhabi?
Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed will once again be crucial at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, so they will be very quick on the first half of the lap which also features the fifth hairpin, where Max Verstappen overtook Hamilton in the controversial 2021 Grand Prix, and the sixth turn. And the seventh.
One of Ferrari’s biggest strengths is traction in slow corners, so they will pose a threat to Red Bull again here.
It is the second half of the lap that features smoother, medium-speed corners that should put Mercedes back in the game. However, the turns have been opened ahead of the 2021 race, so the final sector is not technical anymore.
Overall, Ferrari will be outright quick, especially over a single lap, and it’s just a matter of whether there’s enough tire wear for Mercedes to be able to get back to Leclerc and Sainz over the long stretch.
Sky Sports F1 live schedule for the Abu Dhabi GP
Thursday 23 November
- 11am: Drivers press conference
Friday 24 November
- 7am: F2 Practice
- 9am: Abu Dhabi GP 1st practice (session starts at 9.30am)
- 10.55pm: Formula 2 qualifying
- 12.45pm: Abu Dhabi GP 2nd practice (session starts at 1pm)
- 2.15pm: Formula 1 show
Saturday 25 November
- 10.15 am: Abu Dhabi World Race, third practice
- 12.15pm: Formula 2 race
- 1.15 pm: Preparations for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifiers
- 2 pm: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifiers
- 4pm: Ted’s Qualified Notebook
Sunday 26 November
- 9.10am: Featured F2 race
- 11.30pm: Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP
- 1pm: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- 3pm: Checkered flag: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix reaction
- 4pm: Ted’s notebook
After the excitement of Las Vegas, Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for the 2023 season finale and another stunning spectacle under the lights. Watch the Abu Dhabi weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with the lights out on Sunday at 1pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW
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