Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says they have a long way to go to catch Red Bull but believes they understand the reasons for their performance deficit.
However Wolff isn’t underestimating the difficulty his team faces in cutting the gap to Red Bull during the off-season.
“I’m never confident,” he said. “I always see the glass half-empty. So there’s nothing to really see a positive. They’ve just added nine wins in a row so there’s no reason to be overwhelmed with finishing second and fourth.
“We have a long way to catch up. We have the winter, I think we are doing some good development of the car. Some of the things we are finding might be bigger steps than just adding a few points of downforce. We’re giving it whatever we have and more in order to bring us back in a position to fight for championships.”
Although some changes to the technical rules will come into force next year concerning the cars’ floors, Wolff believes the success of Red Bull’s RB18 means they will “certainly [have] an advantage” going into 2023. “But we believe that we understand where the gap comes from,” he said.
“They will carry over some of their sweetness in the car. We’ve maybe lost eight to 10 months in terms of development because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. So there’s definitely a challenge.
“But we are playing the long game, all of us. Both drivers are playing the long game, the team. And I want to judge about the team performances not based on a single year or weekend but how we’ve been able to win championships over the long-term.”
Although Mercedes have finished second to Red Bull in the last two races, Wolff doesn’t believe they have established themselves as the second-quickest team in F1 ahead of Ferrari, who suffered their least competitive weekend of the season in Mexico.
“I wouldn’t want to say that because they are strong team and we’ve had a few good Sundays now,” he said. “But maybe this circuit also flattered us. After Brazil we’ll have maybe more of a picture, but I don’t think they’re suddenly half a minute slower than us.”
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