Mercedes is working 'flat out' to maintain its advantage over the competition, but boss Toto Wolff admits the pursuit for performance is beginning to test its limits.
Though four wins and two 1-2 finishes from the opening races has seen Mercedes establish itself as the team to beat yet again, gremlins on Lewis Hamilton's car during the Chinese and Russian Grand Prix weekends have raised some reliability concerns.
Indeed, Wolff says the stability of the regulations means Mercedes is finding it difficult to extract more pace from its package and in doing so is increasing the probability over overstepping the mark.
“Assessing our season so far is an interesting task. On the one side, we are leading the Constructors' Championships by a good margin and our drivers hold the top two positions in the Drivers' standings. So, realistically speaking, it's tough to ask for more. However, it has not been plain sailing and we have had problems that we are working hard to solve.
“We have rivals breathing down our necks who are relentless in their chase. The longer regulations remain stable, the harder it is to find extra performance.
“We are pushing the limits to ensure we remain competitive - but if you push the limits then at a certain stage you risk stepping over them. The whole team, on both the chassis and Power Unit side, is working flat out to extract every millisecond from our package without compromising reliability.”
“This is a group of great engineers and I have no doubt that they are going to achieve that. We are always learning as a team. In Hungary and Singapore last year, we took a couple of big hits. But we came out of those races stronger and we continue to learn from our struggles.
Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Wolff is wary of upgrades coming from rivals and anticipates the margin to the front to close.
“We're going to see some big upgrades from the different teams and Power Unit suppliers over the next few races, so now is the time we can truly assess the pecking order. Barcelona will be an interesting weekend from that perspective, so we must be prepared.”