Mercedes not cheating - Red Bull seeing 'ghosts', says Wolff

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Mercedes AMG F1 boss Toto Wolff took issue with Red Bull's suspicions about Mercedes burning oil as fuel to generate an extra power boost in qualifying last year.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit wrote to the FIA recently asking the governing  body to confirm the illegality of any sort of 'oil as fuel' strategem.

But Wolff discarded the suggestions of any illegal ploy, justifying the team's performance in qualifying by engine mapping optimisation.

"They have seen ghosts," Wolff told Italy's Gazetta dello Sport.

"We have had for years a map that allows us to use more horsepower in qualifying. It is nothing new. Maybe in Australia there will be protests, but Mercedes feels safe."

Speculation is mounting about Formula 1's pecking order following pre-season testing and an impressive display of performance by Ferrari, a team Wolff is definitely keeping an eye on.

"It is a solid team, with the right resources, capable engineers and an energetic and motivated leader," he said.

"It's logical to expect a competitive Ferrari. In tests it was the fastest car and covered many kilometres.

"I see Ferrari on the podium on Sunday in Australia, and I hope that we will fight with them for victory."

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