Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff sees his squad as the challengers to Ferrari in Formula 1 despite its healthy points lead in the 2019 world championship standings.

With Ferrari demonstrating an impressive increase in performance since the summer break, with four consecutive pole positions plus three wins which were brought to a halt at the Russian Grand Prix, Wolff feels it is Mercedes’ turn to play catch-up against its rivals.

Wolff has dismissed the idea Mercedes were set to stay dominant in F1 until the next major overhaul in rules set to arrive in 2021 and says the mindset within his team has changed following Ferrari’s purple patch of results.

“I think that what is important, and the successful teams have done it in all sports, is that there is no team that will win every game or every race so you need to be able to stand up, pick yourself up, keep the morale high whilst understanding that this is a pressure situation and this is exactly where we find ourselves,” Wolff said.

“We are trying to look at it from the positive side and see it as a challenge. We are the challengers now and we have got to catch up.

“We can see that in the last few races we aren’t the quickest package anymore. We have a very good chassis performance but overall power drag and power is something where we are lacking to Ferrari and this is something that we need to get under control and work hard.”

Wolff says Mercedes is relishing the challenge to reel in Ferrari and has compared the end of the 2019 campaign to the 2013 F1 world championship when Mercedes aimed to catch Red Bull before the last key shake-up in F1 which followed the season after.

“It is a fun challenge actually. At the beginning it is always difficult to recalibrate yourself because if you set expectations that you are going to win and then you come to the races and suddenly you are not winning,” he said. “It is quite hard to manage your own expectations.

“But I think we are getting there and it is a fun situation. This is like it was in 2013. The difference is that we are still leading the championship.”

Mercedes can wrap up the F1 world constructors’ championship at the next race in Japan if it outscores Ferrari by 14 points.



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