Mercedes now the underdogs, says Toto Wolff as Ferrari continue resurgence
Team boss embraces the notion of no longer being the favourites as Sebastian Vettel leads the way
Once-dominant Mercedes are now the underdogs in the Formula One title race, team boss Toto Wolff said after rivals Ferrari took a resounding one-two in Monaco on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel registered his third win from six races this season and, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing runner-up, the Italian team celebrated their first one-two since 2010.
The result catapulted Ferrari back to the top of the constructors’ standings and also sent German Vettel 25 points clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
“They deserved to win, they had the quickest car out there,” Wolff said. “I like the notion of underdog, because the underdog is the one that people want to see win. As a matter of fact, I think we have been that since the beginning of the season.
“We have been dropping in and out of the tyre window, never had two drivers or two cars over the whole course of a weekend within that window.”
Mercedes, winners of the last three drivers’ and constructors’ titles and 54 of 64 races before the Monaco weekend, have also won half of this season’s races but with both of their drivers tasting victory rather than just one.
Hamilton won in China and Spain while Valtteri Bottas, who joined from Williams in January to replace 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, triumphed in Russia for his first career victory.
While Bottas enjoyed an exceptional weekend in Sochi, Hamilton struggled to get performance out of the Pirelli tyres and finished fourth.
In Monaco, triple world champion Hamilton qualified 13th and ended up seventh, with his Finnish teammate fourth.
“That inconsistency has been following us through the season, and on the opposite side Ferrari put the car on track in Barcelona and they were quick from the get-go,” said Wolff. “So yes, we are the underdog and we need to catch up. This is the new reality at the moment.”
Hamilton has won twice in Monaco, including last year’s race, and Mercedes had won the last four races in the Mediterranean principality. But the champions were never in contention on Sunday.
“Trust me, I will be pushing, and the guys will be pushing, to fully understand it because we don’t want to be in this position again,” said Briton Hamilton, adding that to be 25 points behind was quite a gap to make up.
“One more race like this and we will be much further behind. It is hard just to get to six points and be within firing range. But we will try and chip away at it.”