Toto Wolff admits Mercedes will have to deliver a step forward in performance at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix if it wants to challenge Ferrari for victory.
Although Lewis Hamilton took pole position in Belgium last weekend, he lost the lead to Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap and was unable to put significant pressure on the German as Vettel eventually won by over 11 seconds. Mercedes boss Wolff says the performance shown by Ferrari suggests the slender 15-point lead his team holds in the constructors’ championship will be tough to maintain.
“We did not return from summer shutdown the way we wanted to,” Wolff admitted. “The race in Spa clearly showed that the Ferrari was the better car around that track, both in terms of performance and tire management. In the end, we were simply not fast enough to threaten Vettel after he had taken the lead in the first lap.
“On the plus side, we still came home with more points than Ferrari — through strong drives from Lewis and Valtteri [Bottas] and some bad luck on [Kimi] Raikkonen’s side. However, it is clear that we need find more performance if we want to keep gaining more points than our competitors.
“Over the course of this season, the performance has shifted a number of times between Ferrari and us, so nobody can take anything for granted. We just have to keep our heads down, focus on the developing our car and take it race by race. We brought a good step forward to Spa with our new engines and we need to keep developing quickly over the next weeks.”
While Mercedes dominated at Monza a year ago, Wolff believes the recent form has shown it is likely to be a different story this time round.
“We’re now looking forward to the race in Monza — the last of the European races and a Grand Prix with a truly great atmosphere, thanks to thousands of Tifosi. Last year, we celebrated a 1-2 in Monza. This year, nobody expects it to be easy and we will have to step up our game in order to challenge for victory.
“The Ferrari has been impressively quick on the straights lately which is certainly an advantage on a track like Monza. But we will be fighting them with everything we’ve got.”