Mercedes admits Ferrari P2 overhaul at manufacturers will be ‘huge demand’

Mercedes chief strategy officer James Vowles has played down Mercedes’ chances of eclipsing Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, despite the Silver Arrows’ competitive performance in Mexico City.

Last time Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were in pole position until Q3 in Mexico Citywhile the pair also battled for the podium, with Hamilton eventually finishing P2 and Russell P4 as Max Verstappen dominated and Sergio Perez moved up to P3 at home.

On the way to Sao Paulo, Mercedes are 40 points behind Ferrari in the race for the P2 of the championship – and motorsport strategy director James Vowles candidly assessed their chances.

READ MORE: Could Mercedes have beaten Verstappen in Mexico City with bolder calls from the pit wall?

“We are here to finish second in the championship,” Vowles said in the team final race debrief video“and every race that we can start to close that points gap is a success. In Mexico we only took 13 points from them, so there are 40 left with two races; luckily one of it’s a Sprint race, I think we have a package now, unlike the start of the season or mid-season, that can really bring them the fight.

“But 40 points is a huge ask – it will really have to be perfect, straight – and Ferrari maybe to give us opportunities to open the door to take second place. What I can tell you is that we will not give up until the checkered flag in Abu Dhabi.

‘The car has really taken a step forward’ – Hamilton happy with P2 in Mexico as Mercedes close in on Red Bull

that of Mexico high altitude and thin air may have mitigated Mercedes’ deficit to the top two teams as Vowles admitted he had expected Ferrari “to be closer than they were in Mexico”. The chief strategy officer added that in his view Ferrari still held the advantage going into the final two rounds of the season.

“Ferrari won’t be as far from us as they are in Mexico,” he said. “They will be closer in Brazil and Abu Dhabi and it will be a very tight fight between our two teams… Compared to Red Bull, they still have the advantage [compared] ours. I don’t think it’s quite three tenths that they [Red Bull] outclassed us, but it will be a few tenths in the next races.

POWER RANKINGS: Who leads the leaderboards after the Mexico Grand Prix?

“It’s going to have to be really perfect,” Vowles said in the race report.

Vowles concluded that Mercedes were still on course to fight for their first win of the season.

READ MORE: How does the F1 Sprint work? The format explained for 2022

“We’re getting closer and closer, from where we were at the start of the season where sometimes we struggled to get out of Q1 or Q3 to where we are now, c is to say that we are a hair’s breadth away from fighting for our first victory.

“We have moved forward. In Brazil, it’s a track where our two riders have generally done well and it’s a Sprint race where we can take more points. And when you have a car within tenths of your competitors, you can shake things up.

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