Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has warned they must move up a gear during the second of the season to keep the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull at bay. The world champions’ quest for an unprecedented sixth consecutive world title double appears firmly on course ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, the first race after summer shutdown.
The team lead Ferrari by 150 points in the Constructors’ Championship, while world champion Lewis Hamilton is 69 points ahead of the first non-Mercedes driver – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – in the Drivers’ standings. Mercedes were pushed harder in the races prior to the summer recess and Wolff is urging everyone involved not to rest on their laurels over the second part of the F1 season.
“We’re leading in both championships, but it doesn’t feel that way,” said team boss Wolff. “In the last few years, we saw teams perform very strongly after summer shutdown, so now we need to keep pushing.
“In that respect, we’re approaching the start to the second half of 2019 more like the start to a completely new season – once again, we need to make sure that we leave no room for error and keep raising the bar.” Red Bull and Ferrari, in 2014 and 2018 respectively, have achieved race wins at Spa in the Belgian Grand Prix recently and Wolff knows his team need to be on guard.
“The next stop takes us to Spa, one of the most iconic circuits on the calendar. Finding the right set-up is tricky because the track has a challenging mix of long straights, a wide range of corner speeds, and also considerable elevation changes,” he added.
“The weather can also be somewhat unpredictable in the Ardennes, which can make the sessions very interesting. We’re looking forward to the fight.” Hamilton is favourite at 2.40 to win the Belgian Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 3.75 and Red Bull’s Verstappen 9.00.