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Mercedes still believes Red Bull can be beaten, as new front wing lifts hopes

Mercedes still believes Red Bull can be beaten on pure pace in Formula 1 this year, which is why it does not want to switch full focus to its 2024 car just yet. 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Although the German manufacturer endured what it called a ‘bruising’ race in Austria last weekend, it maintains faith that there is much more performance to be unlocked from its W14. 

It also plans to unleash its latest set of upgrades at this weekend’s British Grand Prix, which is understood to include an updated front wing that is aiming at helping improve aero balance – especially in low-speed corners. 

But while Max Verstappen appears to be in a class of his own in F1 this season as he marches towards what looks like a third world title, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff does not think he is invincible. 

Asked by Motorsport.com if he still believed that Mercedes can beat Red Bull on pure pace terms at some point this year, Wolff said: “I maintain the belief because, if I were to say I don't maintain the belief, then we may as well turn it off and put everything into next year's car, and be happy to finish in the top 10. 

“But you can't. You just have to continue working. We need to take these bad days as good as possible, and try to rebound and come closer. We've seen races where we were decent, and I think the gap to Verstappen was 10 seconds in Montreal, which looks much more encouraging that it was [in Austria].” 

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While the form of the chasing pack behind Red Bull fluctuates quite a lot depending on track characteristics and upgrade cycles, Wolff sees no alarm about Mercedes having slipped back in Austria as he thinks it is just a temporary blip. 

“I think what we're seeing is that the constant is Max in front and then it is between his team-mate, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lando [Norris] with the upgrade and us. 

“It seems to be changing from race to race, and there's not quite a pattern that we can discover so far.  

“What I hear is that Ferrari and McLaren had an upgrade [in Austria], and that could be one of the explanations. But we're bringing one next week [to Silverstone]." 

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But despite Mercedes’ optimism about chasing wins, Red Bull appears to still have the potential to win every race this season. 

And while it is enjoying its success, team boss Christian Horner well knows that it will only take one piece of bad luck to derail its clean sweep. 

“We saw at the British GP last year Max had a bit of debris, it screwed the floor and that was his race run,” explained Horner. 

“It is fine margins between victory and failure, and I think the team is operating at an incredible level. But it only takes a bit of weather or a bit of bad luck or a puncture and things can turn around pretty quickly. We’ve just got to stay at the top of our game and see how long we can keep this run rolling for.   

“We will go to Silverstone with confidence, but also acutely aware that it is very easy to drop the ball and very easy for variables to come in that are sometimes beyond your control.” 

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