Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, (in a statement released this morning) announced “Mercedes is now the underdog” in the 2017 Formula 1 world championship. This statement to Autosport reporters comes days after non executive director Niki Lauda made a similarly negative statement that suggested that should Vettel’s prancing horse not go lame for at least one race that they might as well give up on hope of a constructors world championship.
Wolfs comments on his team’s current team position in the championship:
“I like the notion of underdog, because the underdog is the one people want to see win.
“As a matter of fact, I think we’ve been that since the beginning of the season.
“We have been dropping in and out of the tyre window, we never had two drivers or two cars over the course of the weekend within that window.
“We saw an exceptional performance of Valtteri in Sochi, that we weren’t able to replicate on Lewis’s car.
“We’ve seen and exceptional performance from Lewis in Barcelona and that inconsistency has been following us through the season.
“On the opposite side, Ferrari put the car on track in Barcelona and they were quick from the get go, so yes, we are the underdog.
“We need to catch up and this is the reality at the moment.”
As well as being 17 points behind the lead after 6 races in 2017 the W04 does seem to struggle with tyre degradation (notably the ultra-soft- especially the rears)
This change of form – is unusual and perhaps surprising given that Mercedes were one of the pre-season tyre testers for this year. When this question came up, Wolff’s response was:
“I’m not sure if it was a benefit or not.
“In the end, how the chassis interacts with the tyres is a complex subject.
“There are many dozens of factors that interact and make it perform or not.
“This is not about seeking an excuse because others are able to extract the performance of the tyres and we don’t.
“We have seen from some our competitors, like Red Bull, they have been far out of the window, one-and-a-half seconds off the pace.
“Then back in the race, you could see they are performing well.
“It’s a problem that seems to hit everybody but not Ferrari.
“All credit to them – they have a solid car that is capable to cope with the tyres.”