Mercedes’ CEO and Team Principal Toto Wolff likens the team’s current situation to what the team experienced at the start of his tenure at the team.

Wolff joined a young Mercedes team in February 2013 as their motorsport boss and executive director, having previously been a major shareholder and executive director of the Williams team. Since settling in at the helm of the former BAR, Honda and Brawn GP outfit, the Austrian alongside co-shareholder Niki Lauda, steered Mercedes to eight consecutive constructors’ championships and seven consecutive drivers’ championships.

However, the heavily revised technical regulations, yielding an all-new aerodynamic era for Formula 1’s cars, have seemingly halted Mercedes’ grasp of the front of the field. Rivals Red Bull and Ferrari appear to be considerably ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and new-recruit George Russell, after testing and two race weekends spread across three different circuits exposed weakness with the W13.

Wolff is focused on the need to keep fighting to have a chance to battle for the outright championships this season, and asserts how the team is behind Red Bull and Ferrari. “I love competition and have always loved competition and we had a really strong run of 8 years where we were leading the pack, not always but we kind of managed our way into the lead and this time for me feels a little bit like 2013 where we weren’t up to the speed with the Red Bull and probably also not with the Ferraris but we kept fighting and this is how I feel at the moment,” he said to written media.

In 2013, Mercedes had come off the back of three seasons of poor results due to a lack of investment in development after the Honda-designed Brawn BGP-001 took Jenson Button to the 2009 championship victory in the team name’s sole season. It was towards the front of the field, but not in contention for the title which Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel ultimately dominated.

The onset of the radical 2014 technical changes ended Red Bull’s four year domination and kick-started Mercedes’ own era of success. Wolff believes Mercedes’ position right now is not acceptable however and must be improved upon, with Russell previously stating that Mercedes are closer to the fourth placed team than the top two. Nevertheless, Mercedes will be hopeful of retaining its long run of consecutive championships.

“We need to fight, it is certainly totally unacceptable where we are at the moment, where we are with performance,” said Wolff. “We are third on the road and sometimes not even like today. It’s just not an option to stay where we are.”

The story was written by Danny Herbert

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