Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has predicted “a proper fight” for the 2019 Formula 1 world titles and expects his squad to be pushed to its limits as it aims to maximise its chances using the new features set to decide the season.

The reigning F1 world champions, who have dominated to five consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ crowns in the V6 Hybrid era, are bracing for its toughest season so far having seen the pre-season testing pace produced by main rivals Ferrari.

With a similar situation facing Mercedes last year, the German manufacturer’s in-season development proved pivotal as it grabbed opportunities combined with Ferrari mistakes to secure the world titles in emphatic fashion with races to spare.

Wolff expects a trickier challenge this year but hopes Mercedes can pull off a similar fightback during the season using the rule changes for this year including the new technical rules and altered Pirelli tyres.

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“Last year, we had to give it absolutely everything to come out on top. From what we have learned so far, this year will be even tougher,” Wolff said. “It will push us to our limits - and that's an exciting prospect for every single one of us.

“Judging from the performance in Barcelona, it looks like we will have a proper fight on our hands in Melbourne.

“But an F1 season is not just about who comes out of the blocks quickest; under new regulations like we have this year, it is about who is able to adapt best to the new rules and the new tyres and all the challenges that we will have to master during the year.”

Wolff wants Mercedes to take inspiration from previous campaigns and after maximising its pre-season preparations produce a repeat of its rapid in-season development in its bid for a historic sixth consecutive F1 world title double.

“The most adaptable and agile team will come out on top this season,” he said. “We have shown in the past that we are fast and flexible and that we can handle every curveball thrown at us. We're ready for the fight and look forward to the crazy rollercoaster of a new F1 season.

“Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has poured so much effort and commitment into this new car, so we're excited to finally see it compete on track in Melbourne.”

Mercedes has tied Ferrari’s record of five consecutive F1 world title doubles, notched up between 2000-2004, and duly has the opportunity to make history this season by becoming the first team to win six straight double F1 world championships.

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