Mercedes believe that Renault and McLaren could be a real threat to their Formula 1 supremacy next season.
Mercedes have been the dominant force in the sport over the last few years, winning four consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship doubles.
Their closest opponents this year were Ferrari and Red Bull but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said that he believes Renault could come up the ranks having changed from Honda power to McLaren.
Earlier this week he said, “We mustn’t discount anybody. Today, as it stands, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull. I am curious to see where McLaren and Renault come out. I wouldn’t write anybody off. The rules will stay the same so it could be a very competitive season.”
Speaking separately to the Formula 1 website he said, “I guess we will see a fight between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, and maybe McLaren-Renault will join us in the title fight. That is an exciting outlook for the fans.”
Another potential complication for Mercedes could be an intra-team battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the title following Bottas’ victorious end to this season.
However, as long as their relationship, which so far has been excellent, does not become similar to the final years of Hamilton’s partnership with Nico Rosberg, then Wolff said he would welcome Bottas challenging Hamilton.
“We are not trying to be a family,” said Wolff. “We are a racing team and an effective racing team needs tension, stress and disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive mind-set.”
At present the team are hard at work on next season’s car, the follow up to the W08 which Wolff described as a ‘diva’ due to its high maintenance and inconsistent behaviour. “It was a capricious diva,” added Wolff. “Next year we would like to keep the diva but get rid of the capricious character.”