Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists the prospect of being the underdogs after the opening two rounds of the 2019 season does not “daunt” the team.
Despite recording one-two finishes in both Melbourne and Bahrain, the Brackley-based outfit feels it is on the back foot to Ferrari in the early-season development.
After showing impressive form in winter testing, Ferrari were surprisingly way off the pace in Australia, but hit back in Sakhir with a front row lock-out in qualifying.
A short-circuit engine issue denied Charles Leclerc a maiden victory which allowed Mercedes to grab an unlikely win, giving it a sizeable lead in the standings heading to China this weekend.
“Two races into the 2019 season, it may seem like we’re in a strong position,” Wolff said in his preview of the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix.
“We have 87 points, just one below the maximum score. But the Constructors’ standings do not tell the full story.
“The truth is that we weren’t as quick as our direct competitors throughout qualifying and the race in Bahrain.
“The Ferrari was considerably faster on the straights and this added up to several tenths around one lap.
“Nevertheless, the saying goes that ‘in order to finish first, first you have to finish’ and the combination of solid performances from the team, reliability of our systems and a strong drive from our drivers secured us the one-two.”
In spite of Ferrari’s misfortune this year, Wolff is adamant Mercedes cannot lose sight of the current performance advantage the Italian outfit possesses, as it plans to “exert pressure” on its main rivals in Shanghai.
“The challenge we are facing doesn’t daunt us – it’s uplifting,” Wolff added. “We will keep pushing to extract the maximum performance from our package to deliver the best race we can.
“We will try and exert pressure, maximise our opportunities and keep working hard to develop our overall package. We’ve seen exciting races so far this season and we’re looking forward to the next fight in Shanghai.”