Mercedes playing the long game and shift favourites tag to Ferrari
"It's painful, but we are not the favourites for this year's championship," says Wolff
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 06/06/17 3:17pm
Mercedes have admitted not all of their problems with their car are going to be fixed in the short term as the world champions concede Ferrari are currently 2017's title favourites.
Buoyed by their first one-two race finish in seven years, Ferrari head into this weekend's Canadian GP in increasingly formidable shape, with the Scuderia holding a 17-point advantage over Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship.
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Sebastian Vettel, with three wins from the opening six races, is 25 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings.
Although they have won the other three races, Mercedes have experienced persistent set-up problems with their W08 car and team chief Toto Wolff has insisted "we have to fight with all that we are worth" for every result as "you can no longer expect that when you look at a timesheet the two Mercedes will be right at the top".
"It's painful, but we are not the favourites for this year's championship," said the Mercedes boss.
"Everybody at the factories is working absolutely flat out to assess the current difficulties we are facing - to define our objectives, work with the data we have and then come up with the right solutions," said the Mercedes boss.
"Some of these fixes will be short term, others may take longer. We've had bruising weekends before and it's about showing resilience and getting up after falling.
"I remember the troubles we had in Singapore in 2015, which hurt badly. We gave ourselves a deadline to address that setback before switching our focus to the next race in Suzuka, which we won. We've done exactly the same thing after Monaco - addressing the problems before turning our attention to Montreal.
"We know that this season is a marathon, not a sprint."
Wolff admits it is "painful" to acknowledge that his team, winners of three title doubles on the spin, are no longer F1's dominant force but believes "everything is completely open" as they work on solutions for their performance problems.
Mercedes have consistently proved the team to beat at Montreal's power-hungry Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since F1's hybrid engines were introduced three years ago but Wolff is not convinced it will be quite as strong this time.
However, he is backing five-time Canadian GP race winner Lewis Hamilton and two-time podium finisher Valtteri Bottas to help make the difference.
"I'm expecting an interesting weekend in Canada," added Wolff.
"It could be a tricky race for us in terms of the layout of the track. But, equally, it's a circuit that suits both of our drivers. Lewis has won a number of times in the past and Valtteri has always gone strongly there for Williams. It will be about doing our homework right to give the drivers the car they need to succeed.
"We have two excellent drivers and we will hold true to our philosophy of letting them race each other to drive the team forward - even if sometimes it can be difficult because you can't always have the one who is ahead in the championship winning."
Can Mercedes hit back in the 2017 title fight with Ferrari? Don't miss the Canadian GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. The race starts at 7pm on Sunday. Watch the race for £6.99 on NOW TV.
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