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Wolff urges Mercedes caution

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has stressed that too much shouldn't be read into his team's impressive start to winter testing.

The Brackley-based outfit comfortably topped the mileage charts at the end of the four-day test at Jerez with their W05 also the first car to complete a full race distance.

That strong start reinforced many observers' long-held beliefs that Mercedes are likely to prove the team to beat in F1's new turbo era, with an impressed .

But Wolff, Executive Director (Business) at Brackley, says the team won't be getting ahead of themselves yet.

"If you look back through past seasons, the favourites after the first few days of testing are not always in the same position at the first race," the Austrian told Mercedes' official website.

"I think we have to have a certain degree of caution, especially at this early stage. A few different teams have looked strong so far in different ways, but we won't know the full story for a while yet; not even after the first couple of races I wouldn't say."

Despite striking an early note of caution, Wolff admitted that the 309 laps they completed with the W05 at the first test had exceeded expectations. He insisted, however, that not all of the car's teething problems had yet been ironed out.

"In terms of mileage I would say we are ahead of schedule, while in terms of the bits and pieces we have struggled with and the challenges ahead of the first races, I think we are about where we expected to be," he said.

"We are some way from what we expect to be our full potential, and there are a few things not quite functioning as we would like, however we are proud of the integrated concept produced by the teams at Brackley and Brixworth."

The Mercedes brand as a whole enjoyed a positive week at Jerez with a combined total of 875 laps covered by the four teams it powers. It meant that the marque's V6 turbo units covered nearly double the mileage of Ferrari's powerplants and over five times more than Renault's.

Wolff acknowledged that the wealth of data would naturally have a direct influence on improving the power unit's reliability and performance.

"It certainly helps in terms of the data we can exchange," he added.

"Of course, at the end of the day we are all competitors on track so naturally there is a certain amount of information that is not shared, but the more miles the power unit completes, the better our knowledge will be in terms of identifying issues and improving reliability."

The testing programme resumes in Bahrain in less than two weeks' time and with temperatures in the Middle East likely to be around ten degrees warmer than was the case in southern Spain, Wolff added: "Cooling will be a key consideration.

"This will be one of the biggest challenges of the season, and from that perspective the test in Bahrain will be very interesting for everyone."

The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News. The next test, in Bahrain, begins on Wednesday February 19.