Mercedes F1 team boosted by changes at Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren

Mercedes says turmoil at its rivals has left it less worried about being able to defend its Formula 1 world championship success in the 2015 season

Mercedes F1 team boosted by changes at Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren

With Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren all undergoing major restructures in their bids to get back to the front, Mercedes is making the most of staff stability to try to make improvements to its W05.

While not taking it for granted that the opposition will remain behind, leading Mercedes personnel say events elsewhere make things more comfortable at Brackley.

Speaking after picking up the Racing Car of the Year trophy at the AUTOSPORT Awards, Mercedes' chief designer John Owen said: "Our rivals seem to have sacked half their companies - so I think they are in a bit of a difficult situation.

"If they had remained stable and got their heads together, rather than criticising themselves and maybe the sport, I think we would be more worried than we are."

Watch highlights from the 2014 AUTOSPORT Awards

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Although the W05 was clear at the front of the field, technology director Geoff Willis says Mercedes is encouraged by the improvements it has pencilled in for next year.

"It is going well - but it is steady progress," he said.

"You have to be humble in this business. Success one year does not guarantee it the next.

"I hope we will be strong, I think we will be strong, just how strong we will have to wait and see.

"But it is reasonably stable regulations between 2014 and 2015, which does give its own challenges. It is harder to find improvements."

Willis does believe, however, that the difficulties Mercedes faced in previous years have been a key factor in making it so strong right now.

"This is a project that started four years ago, if not probably longer than that, and certainly the opportunity to work so closely between the chassis side and the engine side has led to the really dominant performance this year," he said.

"We had quite a tough time in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but we learned a lot from that.

"We learned a lot about working together, we learned a lot about technical problems, and I think that is why 2014 has been such a success."

SUCCESS NOT JUST ENGINE

Although it was widely accepted that the Mercedes was the best engine this year, Willis says the its success was not just down to the power unit.

"Without doubt it has been a very strong engine and that has been the challenge for us - to come up with a very strong chassis," he said.

"It is about the combination. It is not necessarily the best chassis, it is not necessarily the best engine, it is the best combination that will win. And that is the important thing."

This week's AUTOSPORT magazine is our 2014 season review special, containing in-depth analysis of all 11 teams' fortunes and a host of special features on the year's big stories

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