Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team had a “setback” with its engine development ahead of the 2019 F1 season.
Speaking at an event for team sponsor Hewlett-Packard, Wolff described how the team had set itself more stretching goals for 2019 based on paddock intelligence about the progress their rivals were making.
“There is a tremendous development race that is happened as we speak,” said Wolff. “Finding downforce, reducing drag and of course the engine is a very important part, 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.”
Wolff said the team is still “on-slope” in terms of the rate of gains it expected to make from its development plan. “We’ve had some good weeks in the wind tunnel,” he said, but admitted the power unit programme hadn’t gone as smoothly.
“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.
“We will know when the first qualifying session gets underway in Melbourne, this is the moment where everybody shows their cards.”
Mercedes have swept all five constructors’ championship titles since the current power unit regulations were introduced in 2014. However rivals Ferrari reduced the gap to them in 2018, which was the first season when teams were required to use just three power units for all 21 races. The same restriction remains in place for next year’s championship.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and