Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says reliability will be a “fundamental” component of Formula 1’s early rounds, after a prolonged period without competition.
Formula 1 drivers have not raced since last December while the 2020 cars have not run in a competitive environment, and were last used during testing in February.
Austria, which will host the first two races, was the scene of a double retirement for Mercedes in 2018 while last year it had to open up its bodywork – compromising its performance – due to the summer heatwave.
“I think first of all this new calendar and corona throws some new challenges at us,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“I think reliability is going to be a fundamental part of the first races – the cars have come out of the container straight from Australia.
“There’s not a lot of time to run them on the dynos, and we’ll be using every session to learn.
“So the reduced race calendar is a challenge for everybody, and the team that has the quickest car and the most reliable package will win the championship.
Mercedes trailed Ferrari in the power stakes last year though suspicions over the Italian marque’s unit raised when it reached a settlement with the FIA in February.
Wolff suspects Formula 1’s power units are likely to converge, meaning there will be very little performance difference when the season commences.
“Last year’s Ferrari power unit was much more powerful, but we haven’t seen it yet,” said Wolff.
“Only in a qualifying session and the race is everyone really going to show their hand, and we haven’t seen that.
“I’m obviously always on the pessimistic side – we need to catch up, we need to come out with a reliable and powerful and drivable engine and I hope it’s enough.
“But I also wouldn’t discount Honda and Renault, I think pretty much every single power unit supplier is pretty much on par now.”