Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsports‘ team boss Toto Wolff has said that the team has had a ‘setback’ with their 2019 engine.
The German manufacturer clinched their fifth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ title in 2018 with Lewis Hamilton being crowned with a fifth world title, beating Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes have dominated the hybrid era of F1 since 2014 when the V6 Turbo Hybrid engines were first introduced, having won 74 out of 100 races in the last 5 years. But the team are facing increase pressure from their rivals Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing every year as they close up in the development race.
Ferrari had the edge over Mercedes, with many claiming the Italian team had the ‘best car’, but Mercedes’ consistency and Vettel’s errors during the second half of the season helped Mercedes and Hamilton retain their titles for the year.
But with 2019 just around the corner, Mercedes boss Wolff said at a event with fellow sponsor, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, that some teams have found ways to recover the lost downforce they will face next year, when new changes regarding the aerodynamics of the cars will come into force.
“These rules have been changed, normally the downforce should be less but the rumours you hear from the paddock is that people have been able to recuperate lots of that,” said Wolff.
“There is a tremendous development race that is happening as we speak in finding downforce, reducing drag.
“And of course the engine is a very important part, and adding more horsepower to the engine So we are setting ourselves really ambitious targets.
“We have actually increased the targets six weeks ago because we heard some rumours that others were doing well, so we increased the final point for the first race where we need to be in absolute lap time. We are still on the slope.”
Wolff revealed that during preparation for next year they have had a setback relating to the engine, in a bid to get more power out of it.
“We’ve had some good weeks in the wind tunnel, we’ve had a little bit of a setback on the engine side where we believed the new concept would deliver a little bit more.
“But these guys are very ambitious like all of us and so I’m optimistic. But you will never know. We will know when the first qualifying session gets underway in Melbourne.”