Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes “the very real threat” coming from Red Bull underlines his team has work to do if it is to retain its Formula 1 titles this season.
Red Bull’s victory in Spain following the Mercedes wipeout, and its performance in Monaco when it should have won that race but for a pit stop blunder, has impressed upon Wolff the team is a serious challenger again, alongside Ferrari.
Despite the fact Mercedes has won five of the six races so far this season, Wolff knows it has little room for error or failures over the remainder of the season.
“I’ve said this many times before, but we have no breathing space in this championship,” he said. “Maintaining any advantage is a constant battle, and the pressure is only getting bigger.
“This unpredictable season has been great for the sport and shows that Formula 1 is alive and well, but for us as a team there is clearly work to do. There remains room for improvement in our reliability, but the push for more performance has become increasingly important too.”
Wolff recognizes, however, that while Red Bull and Ferrari are pushing to usurp Mercedes, his team cannot be caught looking over its shoulder at the opposition, and that it should focus on its own development.
“In Formula 1, you’re only as good as your last race,” added Wolff. “Monaco brought us mixed emotions. For Lewis, it was just what the doctor ordered. For Nico, a whole lot of bad luck in one race made it a tough afternoon.
“But the main thing we took away was the very real threat from Red Bull. It took a bold strategy, a big push from Lewis and an even bigger slice of luck with Daniel [Ricciardo]’s slow pitstop to get us that win.
“At the beginning, it was Ferrari who were expected to be enemy number one as they scored better results. Red Bull won in Barcelona and were competitive in Monaco, and suddenly Red Bull is being seen as the main competitor. We have to stay calm.
“Both teams have resources to be competitive. We’re trying to follow our path, develop the speed we have identified is necessary to win the title and that is more important than looking at the competition.”