While congratulating the Mercedes Formula 1 squad for fourth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ world titles Niki Lauda has warned of an “even more difficult” challenge ahead in 2018.

Despite seeing a Ferrari resurgence this season Mercedes stormed to both world championships with races to spare, sealing the constructors’ in the United States followed by Lewis Hamilton’s fourth drivers’ crown in Mexico, enabling an early focus switch to its 2018 preparations.

Mercedes is bracing for a similar step up in develop from its rivals next season and even though the German manufacturer has repeated its sentiment of relishing the battle, Non-Executive Chairman Lauda is already wary of the challenge ahead.

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“This year was the most difficult one so far and next year it will be even more difficult, but I trust the team 100%,” Lauda said during the teams’ title celebrations. “For the fourth time in a row I'm in the fortunate position to say thank you to the entire team.

“2017 has been a challenging year because of the rule change. A rule change always means uncertainty; no one knows what the other guys are doing. We started with a difficult car, but the team was able to consistently improve it throughout the season, which was the key to winning the championships.

“The team did a fantastic job and Lewis did a fantastic job. I'm really proud of everyone, it's an incredible achievement.”