Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has backed his team to fight back against title-leaders Red Bull this year after the team rolled out its huge slate of upgrades.
The Silver Arrows have introduced six upgrades to the W14 in Monaco, including a new floor, front suspension rear wing and, most notably, new sidepods.
Mercedes had initially continued with their ‘zero sidepod’ concept this year despite it failing to deliver for them but have now seemingly scrapped it for a more conventional design.
Looking at the team’s performance in Monaco, Wolff has praised how close his drivers have managed to get to their rival’s Red Bull in single lap pace.
“I think we’re pretty close together on a single lap, at least today,” Wolff said, adding that it’s the product of a “mega job of everybody in Brackley.”
Unfortunately though, Mercedes is severely lacking when it comes to their race pace, leaving it likely that Red Bull will outperform their old rivals again.
“In the long run you see a car that has performance and has no degradation. They’ve done a good job,” Wolff said, discussing Red Bull. “Max [Verstappen] was in his own class on the long run.”
While starting the weekend strong, Mercedes will be lining up on Sunday in P6 and P8, a tough opening to the Grand Prix given the challenge in overtaking around the street circuit.
Verstappen will lead the race, although he could face an early challenge into turn 1 from Fernando Alonso, as the Spaniard looks to fight hard for his illusive 33rd Grand Prix victory.
Red Bull will be keen to secure back-to-back victories in the principality, having to rely on Verstappen to deliver alone, as Sergio Perez starts in P20 after a crash in Q1.