Toto Wolff admits that, despite having more points than at the same stage of the championship last season, Mercedes cannot afford to relax as F1 heads into its first European race weekend.

The Silver Arrows are five points better off after this season's four 'flyaway' races than they were heading to the Spanish Grand Prix in 2014 but, in a rejuvenated Ferrari, have a rival that is a full 50 points ahead of where Red Bull was a year ago, resulting in an advantage of only 52 points rather than a more overwhelming 97. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has been denied a clean sweep of victories by Sebastian Vettel's Malaysian Grand Prix success for the Scuderia, but still holds a 28-point cushion over the German, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg edging a point in front of his countryman last time out in Bahrain.

While a championship 1-2 and greater points tally would suggest another comfortable cruise for Mercedes, however, Wolff insists that the picture is very different.

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"After the first part of the season, the last weeks gave us the chance to judge our performance so far - and look at what we need to do to build our advantage in the next weeks and months," he said, "We scored more points in the first four races of 2015 than in 2014 and enjoyed better reliability - the team is in a very strong position - [but] the difference is the competitive situation. In 2014, we had a lead of over 100 points in the constructors' championship [sic]; this year, it's 52 points and we are in a close battle at every race weekend.

"But that's what F1 is all about - accepting the challenge of performing at your best for every lap of every race weekend, and always pushing yourself to be even better. Every single team member in Brackley and Brixworth knows that we can't afford to take our foot off the gas, so we are pushing hard with developments to the car and the power unit for the coming races. Barcelona is traditionally the first race for big upgrades, so we will be interested to see how we perform relative to the competition."