Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Ferrari are a massive half a second quicker than the Silver Arrows cars on the Hockenheim straights, a state of affairs that has confounded the German squad.
Valtteri Bottas pulled out all the stops yesterday in qualifying in an effort to secure pole for Mercedes’ home race, but ultimately the Finn clocked in second behind Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari has evidently succeeded in extracting more power recently from its hybrid engine, mainly by improving the energy output of its battery pack by some clever means.
Wolff insists however that Mercedes are committed to improving their own power unit rather than focusing on its rival’s gains. Still, Ferrari’s now clear advantage has unsettled the Silver Arrows camp.
“They have a great power unit, huge performance,” admitted a disconcerted Wolff.
“We’re looking good through all kinds of corners but we are not able to match their straight-line performance.”
Lewis Hamilton, who was knocked out of qualifying on Saturday after suffering a hydraulic failure, considered Mercedes’ deficit on the straights to be three tenths at Hockenheim, but Wolff believes it’s even more than that.
“Actually it’s about five tenths,” said the Austrian.
“Of course we didn’t expect it but in Formula 1 you need to be ready for literally anything and we need to find out how we can increase our output.
“There’s not one single second I want to look at Ferrari. I want to look at ourselves, I want to look at Mercedes and see how, is there anything we’ve missed.
“How can we increase our power output? On the ICE, on the electrical systems? From the battery, from the MGU-H – whatever we can look at because if we want to win this championship or stay in the hunt of the championship we’ve got a severe warning today, in terms of what we’ve seen,” he added.
The magnitude of Ferrari’s sudden advance on the power front has naturally led to suspicion in some quarters, but Wolff reiterates his belief that Mercedes must first and foremost focus on its own affairs.
“I think it’s very important, from the mindset you need to have, to be able to say ‘what can we do, in order to achieve that power output?’ Rather than looking over and as a default reaction to say it’s not legal,” he said.
“We are in a situation where we’re looking at ourselves, how can we achieve that and if we can not achieve it, how can somebody else?”