While both the 2019 Formula 1 drivers’ and constructors’ world titles are a mere formality, ahead of the Rusian Grand Prix weekend Mercedes are concerned that their rivals, Ferrari, in particular, appear to have a better package since the end of summer.
On Sunday in Singapore, there was no Mercedes driver on the podium, with Ferrari scoring a unique one-two with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc at Marina Bay plus Max Verstappen edging the Silver Arrows duo off the podium.
It was also the third race in a row won by the Reds since the second half of the season kicked off at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month.
Ahead of the Sochi race weekend, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said, “Singapore was a tough weekend for us. We had opportunities to win the race, both with a stronger qualifying on Saturday and our decision-making on Sunday.”
“But we failed to do so, for a number of different reasons. But it was also a valuable reminder of the sceptical and humble mindset that has been so important for our success in the past seasons.
“Straight after the race, we started to analyse what went wrong in Singapore and we will use those lessons to learn and improve. These difficult days are the ones that make us stronger: this team has shown time and again that it can turn weaknesses into strengths. And we will do so again, here.
“However, that shouldn’t take anything away from the strength of our opposition, either. The last seven races have shown us that we are in the midst of a fierce battle – and we need to be at our best in every area to claim the top step of the podium,” added Wolff.
Ahead of Russia, Round 16 of the 21-round championship, Mercedes are 133 points ahead in the constructors’ race, while Lewis Hamilton is on 296 points, 65 ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in second and 96 ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen tied in third on 200 points.
The Silver Arrows have won every race held at the Olympic venue since its inception in 2014, with Hamilton hunting a fourth victory there on Sunday, with Bottas winning in 2017 and Nico Rosberg a year earlier.
Wolff acknowledged, “Sochi has been a strong circuit for us in recent years but those trends don’t mean anything once we are on the ground. We expect the weekend ahead to be another challenging one for us – and the entire team is ready to tackle that challenge head-on.
“The circuit features a range of corner speeds, an unusually smooth asphalt and long straights, particularly on the run down to Turn 2. We’re hungry to get to Sochi and begin fighting out on track,” added the Mercedes team boss.