Best Lewis in years will bounce back in Shanghai: Wolff

SHANGHAI • Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has backed Lewis Hamilton to exact swift revenge at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, after a chastening defeat in Formula One's season opener in Australia.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel's comprehensive victory in Melbourne has put Mercedes on red alert ahead of the Shanghai race weekend, but Wolff insists Hamilton has the steel to strike right back after finishing second.

"Lewis is the best Lewis that I've seen in the last four years - both on and off the track," said the Austrian. "He's become a pillar of this team and he proved that in Melbourne.

"You need to be careful to manage your own expectations. If you think you are going to cruise to victory in the future, based on a track record of success, you'll be proven wrong very quickly.

"You need to put the finger in the wound, identify your weaknesses and then respond."

Hamilton, who busied himself with a spot of scuba diving this week, has won four times in China but the three-time world champion will be mindful of his sluggish start to last season's campaign.

Then, his former team-mate Nico Rosberg reeled off four straight victories before the Briton hit his stride in Monaco in the sixth race of last year. Rosberg's hot start helped the German pip Hamilton to the world title before he sensationally walked away from the sport.

Valtteri Bottas replaced Rosberg and the Finnish driver took third in Australia on his Mercedes debut.

Still, Ferrari have shown impressive early pace, with 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen taking fourth and all the signs point to another tight battle between the two top teams in China. A buzzing Vettel, who romped to four successive world titles with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013, will fancy his chances of further getting under Hamilton's skin.

Wolff is under no illusions about the threat posed by Ferrari.

"There are still many areas where we can be better," he said. "It's not a case of looking at the competition for inspiration but of getting our own homework done to maximise our performance."

Bottas, meanwhile, tweeted photos of himself running bare-chested along a beach in Bali to prepare for this week and will be hoping to make a splash in Shanghai.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2017, with the headline 'Best Lewis in years will bounce back in Shanghai: Wolff'. Print Edition | Subscribe