In the past few year, Ferrari and Red Bull have been perennial threats to Mercedes. 2018 will likely be no different, but Mercedes have admitted that McLaren and Renault could pose a challenge. But, Toto Wolff is taking the McLaren and Renault threat “seriously” as potential Formula 1 title rivals. Although Ferrari and Red Bullare their main rivals, the other two could spring a surprise.
Mercedes’ sole focus was on Ferrari while battling for a fourth straight F1 championship double last year. Meanwhile Red Bull won three grands prix and will be stronger in 2018. But Wolff refused to rule out McLaren and Renault, given their past title pedigree. He believes that both have the capability to become just as strong again.
He said, “This is the pinnacle of motor racing you need to respect every team and the top drivers. We are taking Ferrari, we are taking Red Bull, we are taking McLaren, we are taking Renault seriously. These guys can fight for a championship and some others might be surprising us. I want to remain humble and expect competition from all of these teams and if we are able to align the dots like we have done in the last year then we will be winning races and then we will be fighting for championships and if we don’t then we haven’t been good enough.”
Back in 2017, Ferrari drew first blood and Vettel won the opening grand prix in Australia. Ferrari were a step closer to winning the driver’s and constructor’s title. In Monaco, Vettel led a Ferrari one-two and went 25 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the standings. But Mercedes bounced back as Ferrari encountered difficulties including driver errors and poor reliability. Ferrari’s misfortune allowed Hamilton to clinch the championship with two races to spare.
Toto Wolff said, “How the car performed on track was exceptional and the step they made over the winter was probably the biggest step of all the teams. I am happy that we kept it together. We have a record of 11 race victories versus the five of Ferrari and the stopwatch never lies. Having said that we need to stay both feet on the ground. Ferrari could have won more races. We’re taking them very seriously as a real contender [for 2018] like we do with the other teams.”