Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fires stern warning to Max Verstappen

Toto Wolff has warned Red Bull that they will need to be at their very best to stop Mercedes over the final two race weekends. The Austrian has boasted about the performance of his team’s cars ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Even though we are so late in the season, there is still everything to play for in both championships.

Max Verstappen leads the drivers’ standings, but his advantage has been slashed to eight points by the resurgent Lewis Hamilton with two races remaining.

Mercedes is the team with the advantage in the constructors’ table, but five points represents only a slender lead over Red Bull.

It is the Silver Arrows who seem to have the momentum, though, with Hamilton in particular showing incredible speed over the last two race weekends.

He was able to win in Brazil despite starting the race 10th due to a grid penalty, and no-one could touch him the following week in Qatar.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fires stern warning to Max Verstappen
© GETTY Toto Wolff has fired a warning to Max Verstappen

Wolff has been very encouraged by what he saw over those two weekends, and has talked up his team’s performance as we well and truly enter the business end of the season.

“Last time out we saw a faultless drive by Lewis in Qatar, commanding the race from start to finish, and a strong recovery for Valtteri before the unfortunate puncture took him out of contention,” he said.

“The car has been performing well recently and is probably in the best place it has been all season, with the drivers confident to push it to the limit.

“That’s encouraging for the final races and gives us strong momentum to take forward.”

The Austrian also discussed the brand new track in Saudi Arabia, which adds an element of mystery to what is already set to be an intense weekend of F1 action.

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With “both titles wide open”, Wolff talked up the importance of “hitting the ground running” from the moment the team’s work begins in the Saudi capital.

“Jeddah is another completely new challenge, an all-new track to get to grips with and a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure we hit the ground running on Friday,” he added.

“Getting as much information as we can during those initial sessions will be vital.

“It’s a fast street circuit with long flat-out sections and several high-speed corners, lined by barriers meaning it’ll be high risk and reward.

“We’re more motivated than ever and we expect to be in the hunt, so we are all looking forward to the debut Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff fires stern warning to Max Verstappen
© GETTY Just five points separate Red Bull and Mercedes, with the title race still far too close to call

While there is much excitement about the title race and a new racing venue, the mood in Jeddah this weekend is also likely to be a sombre one after the death of an F1 legend.

Sir Frank Williams died on Sunday morning surrounded by his family, and there are sure to be many tributes made to him from across the paddock.

Wolff also mentioned the legendary team boss in his pre-weekend notes, and vowed to honour him with a “worthy” performance.

“Just a few days ago we lost Sir Frank Williams,” the Mercedes chief continued.

“He will be in all our thoughts this weekend and we’ll try our best to deliver a performance that’s worthy of his racing spirit.”

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