Time is rapidly running out for Mercedes to claim their first win in 2022, with just two races remaining in a year they will be extremely happy to forget.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Silver Arrows are getting closer to the top step again, after Lewis Hamilton finished second on merit at both the United States and the Mexican Grand Prix.
Unfortunately for Hamilton and Mercedes, a certain Max Verstappen has simply had the upper hand over the Germans, who in all fairness cost themselves victory last weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was the first to apologise to his drivers for the side’s conservative tyre strategy, with Red Bull’s aggressive approach having neutralised the race effectively.
The issue for Mercedes now is that they predicted that Mexico would be their “best chance” of victory, with the side now looking unlikely to win at either of the final two races of the year.
“In our simulations, it looked like the best chance,” Wolff said.
“Well, that’s a bit bitter. But we’ll try.
“The most important thing is that we continue to develop the car for next year.”
Given that Mercedes were commonly finishing over 30 seconds behind the winner at the start of the year yet are now challenging consistently for podiums and even victories, demonstrates how far the Brackley-based team have come in 2022.
The side won’t be happy with their season, especially with how dominant they’ve been since 2014; however, the side’s confidence and belief has seen them become arguably the second-best side on the grid, with Wolff certain that his team are ahead of Ferrari.
Wolff knows his team will win again, and that they are “going” for it.
“We’ve come such a long way and now we’re here,” the Austrian continued.
“We’re going for the win, we’re going for the podium with both cars, the Ferraris are behind us.
“So you have to stay humble and be aware of what we’re achieving while we’re still reaching for the stars.”
Mercedes have incredibly scored more points than Ferrari at the last two races, which has seen the Germans close to 40 points behind the Italians ahead of Brazil.
This is still a considerably large gap to close, especially with the upcoming race at Interlagos likely to be one that’ll suit the Scuderia.
With that in mind, Wolff was asked if he’d rather claim second in the Constructors’ Championship or win one race in 2022.
“A win!” exclaimed Wolff.
“A win would be proof that our car is back in the fight” while P2 could “also be because others dropped the ball and you are scoring more points.”
Despite this, Wolff would still like his side to finish above Ferrari in the standings, with the Maranello-based team having been so strong at the start of the season; however, the target remains to win.
P2 for Mercedes would “definitely be a consolation because Ferrari had the fastest car at the beginning of the season,” explained Wolff.
“Finishing in front of them would be great.
“But like I said, that’s not our main priority. The main priority is to understand the car and have a fast car out there.”
Majority of the teams, including Mercedes, have switched their focus to 2023, with the Silver Arrows being eager to rectify the issues they created when designing the W13, most notably, porpoising.
Wolff admitted the team are “giving everything” to return to the top next season, something that would come as absolutely no surprise considering they won the Constructors’ Championship every year from 2014-2021.
“I think we’re making good progress on the car,” said the Austrian.
“Some of the things we’re finding could be bigger steps than just adding a few notches of downforce.
“But we’re giving everything we’ve got and then some to get us back in position to fight for the championship.”