Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stressed that his team cannot afford to ease off for the 2021 season because Formula 1 engine rival Honda will “give it a big go” in its final campaign supplying Red Bull.

A fifth 1-2 finish of the season sealed a seventh consecutive constructors’ championship for Mercedes at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with four races to go, while the team is also guaranteed to win the drivers’ title early thanks to its dominance in 2020, winning all but two of the 13 races held so far.

Mercedes is expected to carry its performance advantage over into 2021 given that teams will continue to use their current cars with development restricted in a push to save costs due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Mercedes has already stopped developing its 2020 car, Red Bull has made some encouragement recent gains that have enabled Max Verstappen to put in an enhanced challenge. Honda has also confirmed it is working on developing a brand new power unit as part of a big push for its final season supplying Red Bull in F1 next year.

Asked if he is worried about Red Bull’s rise in performance, Wolff replied: “We always worry, because you can say that this season was probably our strongest and with the biggest gap, but there was rarely more than three cars in front.

“Max is also doing a fantastic job. He's probably driving better than the car is actually capable of bringing. It's like a deja vu every single weekend where you have these three amigos out in front and he's just clinging on with his finger tips to the Mercedes.

“Therefore next year, Honda is going to give it a big go I guess in the last season, and everybody at Red Bull is going to be motivated. Last but not least, Max.”

And Wolff said that “everything” is being done to try and stop Mercedes’ dominance when the next major regulation overhaul - including an all-new car, budget cap and revised prize money structure - comes into force from 2022.

"Next year will be a transitional year with the same machines," he explained. "As I've said before, I expect Honda to give it a big push.

"And then obviously this big challenge of 2022 is on the doorstep. That will motivate us.

"Everything has been done to stop us. We will all fight on a level playing field financially and everything is pretty much capped.

"I'd like to see us continue to perform well, even through this most dramatic regulatory change that has ever happened in F1."

 

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