Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says the German marque must remain "ambitious" with its power unit development if it is to fend off the threat posed by its engine rivals heading into the 2019 season.

Mercedes stormed to its fifth consecutive set of drivers' and constructors' championships in 2018, continuing its clean sweep of titles since the introduction of the new V6 hybrid power units at the start of 2014.

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Much of Mercedes' success has lay in its power advantage, but after coming under greater pressure from Ferrari in the engine battle this year, and with Honda and Renault both on the rise Wolff stressed the necessity of aiming high in its power unit development.

"We have seen throughout the season that all engine manufacturers including us have made big steps," Wolff said.

"Ferrari had a very, very strong power unit this year. Honda really made big improvements, with exceptional performances in a Toro Rosso. And also Renault propelled the Red Bull to a win candidate at almost every race at the end of the season.

"You can see engine performance has been converging, and we have been the leader of the pack for many years now, and in order to stay the leader next year again and return to this position, we need to push very hard and we need to set ambitious targets.

"But as Formula 1 has become an efficiency formula that is important, you need to have the most powerful engine that actually finishes the race. It’s not only about peak performance but peak reliability. That balance is very difficult."

Wolff also picked out the defeat to Ferrari in British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a power track where the German marque typically dominated, as a key turning point in the team's season.

"As you can imagine, it’s Lewis’ home grand prix and our team is based in Brackley. Losing on a track where it was a track where we’ve always performed well was very difficult," Wolff said.

"But we collected all the energy within the organisation and came back strong."




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