Mercedes given 'wake-up call'

Mercedes’ four-year winning streak in Canada ended by Vettel; Bottas second and Hamilton only fifth as Briton loses title lead

By James Galloway in Montreal

Last Updated: 10/06/18 11:51pm

Toto Wolff says the Canadian GP weekend serves as a “major wake-up call” to Mercedes to get to grips with the “new reality” of F1’s expanded battle for honours.

For the first time since 2014, Mercedes were beaten at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with Sebastian Vettel never appearing to be under serious threat as the Ferrari driver won the race to retake the lead of the Drivers’ Championship from Lewis Hamilton.

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Mercedes, who finished second and fifth, arrived at Montreal without their planned engine upgrade after running into late reliability concerns this week and Wolff says every small possible gain now counts more than ever.

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“I think this, and we’ve had it in the past, is a major wake-up call for every single member of the team,” he told reporters.

“Everybody needs to assess how to improve performance in order to optimise on those marginal gains because those marginal gains are going to make all the difference.”

Montreal had been a Mercedes stronghold in the current hybrid engine era but Wolff accepts Ferrari simply had a “stronger car” this weekend and that past success counts for little this season.

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With Red Bull also pushing the world champions, and finishing with two cars ahead of Hamilton, Wolff says the race-by-race battle is going to be determined by fine margins.

“There is not really a pattern you can see,” he said. “Normally on some tracks we were dominant and others we struggled, but somehow this year the margins have become so tight that if you look at the fastest laps of the race it’s five cars within a tenth.

A quick look back at the Canadian GP after Sebastian Vettel claimed victory in Canada ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.

A quick look back at the Canadian GP after Sebastian Vettel claimed victory in Canada ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.

“This is why this year’s championship is going to be decided by the one who makes the fewest mistakes, brings the best development onto the power unit of the engine on every single weekend.

“That is the new reality. It’s a three-way fight, six cars can win races and you can’t take anything for granted. You can’t come to Montreal and think it’s going to be a walk in the park because that’s the kind of wake-up call you get.”

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He admitted: “We were coming to Montreal expecting our car to be really strong and we are leaving Montreal seeing that we haven’t been where we thought we should be.

“There is not the usual historic pattern of cars being strong on certain circuits and weak on others. I still think we are not pretty good in Monaco and Singapore, but that’s maybe the odd outlier. You need to expect everyone to be strong everywhere.”

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