Mercedes believes Formula 1’s three-way battle for supremacy in 2018 between the Silver Arrows, Ferrari and Red Bull will “intensify” at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes has been the dominant force in F1 throughout the V6 hybrid era but faces its biggest challenge to date this season thanks to a renewed threat from chief rivals Ferrari, with the Scuderia picking up two wins from the opening four rounds of the campaign. 

Red Bull also made improvements over the winter and claimed a victory before the German manufacturer this year, as the reigning world champions went three races without a win for the first time under F1’s current regulation cycle. 

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But a surprise win for Lewis Hamilton during a chaotic race in Baku last time out saw the Briton move four points clear of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ standings heading into this weekend’s race in Barcelona

“The first four races indicate very strongly that we will see the three-way battle continue and if anything - intensify,” team boss Toto Wolff said. 

"We're hoping that this year's Spanish Grand Prix will be a good race for us, but we know that it will be tough.”

On top of its continued tyre struggles, Mercedes appears to have fallen behind Ferrari in terms of straight-line speed and one-lap pace, an area it previously held a significant advantage over the rest of the field. 

Spain has traditionally acted as the start of the European leg of the F1 calendar and provides teams with a chance to introduce major revisions to their cars during the season, leaving Wolff fascinated to see how updates might influence the pecking order. 

“The European season is also the time when teams start introducing bigger upgrades to their cars. It's the first step of the development race that looks like it could run to the very end of the season. 

“It will be interesting to see how much performance the teams can find with their upgrades and what impact those upgrades will have on the team ranking - both at the front and in the midfield.”

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