Mercedes may be vulnerable to rivals behind on the opening lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, admits its team principal Toto Wolff.
The six-time world champions have not been fastest during the high-speed first and third sectors at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, however its advantage in the middle sector saw Lewis Hamilton take pole position by over half a second on Saturday.
In 2018, Hamilton was passed on the opening lap by Sebastian Vettel, who went on to win the race.
Wolff says that a similar scenario may arise this time around, with Max Verstappen and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo starting from third and fourth place respectively.
“I think overall the qualifying result shows that we had the quickest car over one lap and hopefully we can maintain that for the race,” Wolff said.
“You’re quite vulnerable particularly on the straight into Turn 5. Max is on pretty high downforce as well but maybe a little bit less than us.
“But the really interesting car is Ricciardo who runs a low downforce configuration where he has been far the quickest on the straight.
“I believe we could have a situation some years ago with Force India – a couple of cars will try to make into Turn 1 and that will then be interesting to see how it plays out with strategy.”
As well as Verstappen and Ricciardo, Hamilton will teammate Valtteri Bottas hot on his heels on the opening lap.
The Finn, who is searching for his first race win since the Austrian Grand Prix, says he must attack early if he wants to keep his 2020 title hopes alive
“I need to attack if I still want to keep the title hopes there,” Bottas said. “Nothing is, obviously, over until it’s over and I’m going to go for it.
“The first lap is always a great opportunity, but here racing is always great so, at least, I know already there will be plenty of opportunities to do it.”