Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has charged his squad with 'aggressive targets' for 2017 and concedes the build-up towards pre-season testing is always an anxious time for the team.
Mercedes is hastily preparing for the opening pre-season test at Circuit de Catalunya (27th February-2nd March) as well as its team launch at Silverstone on the 23rd February as it aims to defend its F1 world drivers' and constructors' championship crowns in 2017.
Wolff says the technical regulations shake-up plus alterations to Pirelli tyres in a bid to increase lap times and spark fresh excitement into F1 has added extra pressure to Mercedes' winter work – with both factories in Brackley and Brixworth 'working flat out' – and according to Wolff hasn't given the team a single etra day off since wrapping up the 2016 season in Abu Dhabi last November.
“No major drama that is important but obviously when you push performance these days are very difficult,” Wolff said. “In some areas in the factory at Brackley and Brixworth the guys are pushing flat out in order to bring the car and engine in to meet the performance targets we have set ourselves. Make it reliable and putting together the car overall is the busiest time of the year.
“I am most excited to see how the new car is going to go because we all expect them to be much faster and look spectacular plus much more physical for the drivers.”
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The Mercedes boss says setting the expectation to match and potentially better his squad's 2016 achievements, when between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg the team won 19 out of 21 races and took 20 out of 21 pole positions, has cranked up the pressure but he feels it has the mentality to combat any issues.
“When there is such a regulation change it provides opportunities and risks,” he said. “We have set aggressive targets for where the car should be going to, also with the engine, and we are pushing flat out to achieve those targets. Will those targets be enough or will other teams get out of the blocks better than us? We don't know.
“Whether there is a regulation change or not it is the time of year that we are all very sceptical and question ourselves on whether we have done a good enough job. It is very much the mentality of the team. It doesn't make our days any happier but it is how we function.”
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Mercedes heads into 2017 with new addition Valtteri Bottas alongside Lewis Hamilton after Nico Rosberg's shock retirement just days after clinching the F1 world title last year.
Mercedes will also be without technical chief Paddy Lowe who is set to join Williams and in the interim period has appointed Aldo Costa as Engineering Director, Mark Ellis as Performance Director, Rob Thomas as Chief Operating Officer and Geoff Willis as Technology Director. Ex-Ferrari technical chief James Allison is rumoured to be joining Mercedes after finishing his garden leave this summer.
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