Toto Wolff admits Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty at the Austrian GP should make Mercedes’ race “more comfortable”, but refuses to rule Ferrari out of the victory contention.
Vettel will start Sunday’s race, live on Sky Sports F1 , in sixth after he was handed a three-place grid penalty by stewards for impeding Renault’s Carlos Sainz during qualifying.
The grid drop means Mercedes have lost their main Spielberg threat and Lewis Hamilton’s title rival from the second row.
“Obviously the situation is more comfortable like this,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told reporters in Austria.
But with Kimi Raikkonen taking Vettel’s place in third, Wolff insisted that “the problem is not solved”.
He continued: “There is a Ferrari that performs well – Kimi is still there.
“What we have said is that the Ferrari is particularly strong out of traction at Turn Three and into Turn Three it will be difficult.”
Austrian GP provisional grid
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Kimi Rakkonen, Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
5. Romain Grosjean, Haas
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari*
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
8. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
9. Carlos Saunz, Renault
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
11. Esteban Ocon, Force India
12. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso
13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren
14. Lance Stroll, Williams
15. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren
16. Sergio Perez, Force India
17. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams
18. Charles Leclerc, Sauber**
19. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso
*issued three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz
**issued five-place grid penalty for gearbox change