[F1 2018 NEWS] MERCEDES: DOMINANCE ON THE LINE

Mercedes heads into F1 2018 as the undisputed benchmark. The Silver Arrows secured its fourth-straight world championship double last year.

The squad retained its dominance through a technical regulation revamp, something that no other team in the history of F1 has done.

SOUNDBITE (English) TOTO WOLFF,
HEAD OF MOTORSPORT, MERCEDES: 
“If there is something like momentum [then] that is something that is disturbed by a change of regulation. And, it provides opportunity but it also provides risk.”

That risk meant Mercedes was under pressure from lights out in Australia, with Ferrari resurgent – the title chase soon focused on the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

The pair took three wins each from the first seven races, one point the gap after Hamilton’s victory at Silverstone. Vettel held on with a win in Hungary, but lost his lead from Italy – and never recovered.

While Hamilton sealed his fourth title with nine wins - and points at all 20 rounds – a feat only achieved by two other icons in their championship seasons, Michael Schumacher in 2002, and Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and 1955 – the Brit knew how hard he’d had to work for it.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"It's been a long, long, long year. And a lot of work. There's over a thousand people in our team, so to prepare every week… week in, weekend out, and fight the Ferraris, who have obviously been very competitive through the year has been a massive challenge.”

On the garage’s other side, Valtteri Bottas proved a capable replacement for Nico Rosberg, taking three wins, 13 podiums, and four pole positions. But he’ll need a far stronger season to be re-signed for 2019 and beyond – the Finn well-aware of who he’s up against.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“Lewis [Hamilton], my team-mate, is probably the best qualifier ever in Formula 1. So, it is never easy to try and be ahead [of him on the grid], so that's always a good target for me.”

Hamilton heads into the new season gunning to equal Fangio on five titles, the Brit more motivated than ever to be undisputed top driver at Mercedes – his nightmare 2016 season spent fighting Rosberg still haunting him.

SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"Obviously I went into that [2016-17] break and I think mentally I was like, I don't ever want to be in the position, or put the team in a position that they have to decide whether we are first or second.”

On the technical front, Mercedes is reportedly focusing on creating a car that has more easily accessible performance, its last challenger dubbed “a diva” with a narrow sweet spot.

The likely scenario, a move towards a concept mirroring last year’s Ferrari, with its shorter wheelbase and high rake for better ground effect.

… which should set up an epic battle at the front as both teams converge on the design front, closing the gap.

Mercedes’ outright dominance is on the line as F1 2018 approaches.