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Mercedes would prefer F1 race win over second in constructors' standings

Mercedes would rather win a Formula 1 race this year than beat Ferrari to second place in the constructors’ championship, says team boss Toto Wolff.

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The German manufacturer has endured a challenging 2022 campaign and, despite having got one pole position this year, is at risk of not winning a race for the first time since 2011.

But its consistency, allied to recent improvements, has left it in contention to overhaul Ferrari for second place in the teams' battle behind Red Bull.

Mercedes is currently lying in third place in the overall standings, 40 points behind its Maranello rival.

While the runner-up slot would be a good end result to a year that started with such difficulties, Wolff says that he would actually prefer it to round off the season with a victory rather than stepping up a world constructors' championship position.

“The win would be proof that our car is back to fight for wins,” he said when asked why he felt that way. “P2 could also be because the others dropped the ball and you’re just scoring more points.”

Lewis Hamilton took another second place behind Max Verstappen as Red Bull scored a ninth consecutive victory in Mexico.

Lewis Hamilton took another second place behind Max Verstappen as Red Bull scored a ninth consecutive victory in Mexico.

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

While Wolff would not be against overtaking Ferrari in the points table, he says that the better judge of the team’s progress is how its car is performing on track.

“It would definitely be some consolation, because Ferrari had the quickest car at the beginning of the season,” he said about the runner-up spot.

“Finishing ahead of them would be great, but again, it’s not our main priority. The main priority is to understand the car and have a quick automobile on the track.”

Mercedes had two of its best chances of the year to grab that win in the recent United States and Mexican Grands Prix, but tyre strategy choices compromised its chances on both occasions.

However, considering the scale of the problems that the team faced at the beginning of the season, Wolff is happy about the level of progress made – even though there are tinges of disappointment about the Austin and Mexico chances that got away.

“The thing is, we are racers, and the moment we can kind of see it in front of us, we just want to grab it,” he said.

“Therefore, there is always a sense of frustration. But we have come from such a long way, and here we are. We are racing for a win, racing for both cars on the podium, the Ferraris are behind us. So you need to stay humble and of what we achieved while still reaching for the stars.”

 

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mercedes feels it has a good understanding of what went wrong with its W13 this year, and what needs addressing for 2023 as it looks poised to switch concept.

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However, Wolff says there can be no complacency that the changes that are planned will guarantee it being back at the front of the field.

“[I’m] never confident,” he said. “I always see the glass half empty. So there is nothing to really see it positive. I’ve just heard nine wins in a row [for Red Bull], so there is no reason to be overwhelmed with finishing second and fourth. We have a long way to catch up.

“We have the winter. I think we’re doing some good development on the car. Some of the things we are finding might be bigger steps than just adding a few steps of downforce. But we’re giving it whatever we have and more in order to bring us back into the position to fight for a championship.”

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