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Mercedes needs to be “careful” with F1 expectations

While Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s third and fourth place finish matched previous season highs, the Montreal performance was the team’s most..

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Jonathan Noble

While Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s third and fourth place finish matched previous season highs, the Montreal performance was the team’s most competitive race of the campaign in pure pace terms.

That has opened up talk of Mercedes being close to finally challenging pace-setters Red Bull and Ferrari, especially as F1 heads to high-speed and smooth circuits like Silverstone and Paul Ricard that should suit its car.

But Wolff is remaining very cautious and is mindful that similar levels of optimism after the Spanish Grand Prix evaporated very quickly.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer,” he explained. “We saw that swallow in Barcelona, ​​but somehow it flew somewhere else.

“I think we need to be careful. We were off the pace on Friday. In the wet we were good, and I think that was respectable. And I think that in the race, at times, we were with the quickest cars. In the second stint Lewis and George were almost matching the frontrunners. They were not quite, but on some laps, yes.

“That is very encouraging to see. But we just need to be careful. There’s so much work we need to do in order to be back at the front, and we are not yet there.”

For Hamilton, who took his second podium finish of the year after third place in the season opener in Bahrain, the result has raised optimism levels about what is possible over the remainder of the campaign.

“It’s given me and the team a lot of hope,” Hamilton said. “I think that there’s more to come from this car. The potential is truly there if we can get the set-up right, and I think that’s been the most difficult thing this year: really trying to optimise the set-up.

“The window for this car is much, much smaller than any other car we’ve experienced.”

Wolff said that was one of the big positives to take out of the Montreal weekend was seeing Hamilton finally have a weekend where circumstances did not conspire against him.

Having had a number of events where bad timing of safety cars or small events hurt him, Wolff welcomed a more straightforward delivery to Canada.

“There were a lot of races that it worked against him, where he could have scored a podium or a much better result and it was not his wrongdoing but bad luck,” said Wolff.

“Seeing him now on the positive side and being on the podium without anything in a way gifted, that’s good to see.”

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