Seven wins into a record-breaking sweep of consecutive world championships, Mercedes’ biggest problem is that it makes such brilliance seem easy and effortless, even on its occasional off-days. But that excellence comes at a cost: last season’s title double might have appeared straightforward but it was bought painfully.
Wary of a resurgent Ferrari, Merc’s engineers pushed harder than ever, taking risks both with the W11 chassis and its new power unit. Team principal Toto Wolff said it had pushed many of them to breaking point, or even beyond. As the season panned out, flattered by Ferrari and Red Bull proving weaker than expected, Mercedes enjoyed a surprisingly healthy competitive margin. But it isn’t allowing itself to be lulled into complacency, even though F1’s austerity measures dictate that the ‘new’ W12 is essentially a B-spec version of its predecessor.
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