Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff feels the straight-line speed deficit to Ferrari means the performance gap between the two teams “is almost uncatchable” for the remainder of the 2019 Formula 1 season given the current championship picture.

With both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having already taken their full allocation of F1 power unit components for the season, meaning any additional parts will also incur grid penalties, Mercedes is effectively facing the task of maximising its current power unit specification to close the deficit to Ferrari over the final races in 2019.

With Wolff uninterested in risking grid penalties to push forward with new engine parts, the Mercedes boss says his team must work with what it has and develop its current package but accepts bridging the gap to Ferrari could be an impossible task between now and the end of the season given the limitations it has set on itself.

Despite Hamilton feeling he got close to perfection with his final qualifying lap in Russia, he couldn’t get within four-tenths of a second of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc due to the advantage the Ferrari driver holds in terms of straight-line speed.

“I think on pure performance there is not a lot to come,” Wolff said. “I think you’ve just got to acknowledge that there is a certain gap that is almost uncatchable. But we’ve got to do an even better job to put together an even better chassis on the track and with our understanding of the tyres together with running the right race strategy.

“In the last three races we had a really good race car even though in pure speed a deficit on Saturday. I think this is where our opportunities lay but clearly with their kind of power unit performance we shouldn’t be expected to dominate the coming weekends.”

Wolff remains steadfast in this view until Mercedes has mathematically wrapped up both F1 world titles and duly clinched a record-breaking six consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ crowns.

Hamilton currently leads the F1 standings by 65 points from Mercedes teammate Bottas, with Ferrari’s Leclerc in third 96 points back on Hamilton. Mercedes has an even greater advantage in the constructors’ standings with a 133-point lead over Ferrari.

“I think the most important thing is to do is do the best possible job everywhere and I don’t want to talk about the championship at the end of the year because we are far away from it,” Wolff added. “There are six races to go and many points to collect so I think it is about optimising.

“We haven’t raced tomorrow so even if we are on the backfoot we will have a power unit that is obvious it doesn’t mean that we cannot win races as we have a strong race car, strong drivers, generally a good strategy and tomorrow there will be an offset on the tyres which will give an opportunity.

“I don’t want to write off any races until the end of the season just because we are having a power deficit or power and drag deficit.”

 

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