Mercedes suffered a small ‘setback’ in its engine development plans for the next season and is still not up to internal expectations, says boss Toto Wolff.
The Silver Arrows squad is looking to continue the winning streak in its sixth year in the series but is acutely aware of the competition closing the performance gap.
Wolff revealed that Mercedes was doing well with its planned development. But when they heard of major gains being made by the rivals, they enhanced their own internal targets.
But the team has not yet reached the engine’s performance targets, he admitted.
Speaking at an event for the team’s sponsor HP, Wolff said: “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.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
The 2019 regulations result in reduced downforce due to the new simplified wing structure.