SINGAPORE – Mercedes might be running away with both the drivers' and constructors' championships this year but team principal Toto Wolff is adamant his outfit have flattered to deceive at times.
The Silver Arrows have dominated this season, winning 10 of 14 races, including the first eight. They have collected 505 points and are a massive 154 clear of second-placed Ferrari.
The Austrian told The Straits Times on Friday (Sept 20): "Our record for the first 10 races (they won nine of them) flattered us a little bit. Bahrain should have been won by Ferrari for sure, probably Montreal as well. So the score would have been less dominant."
In the Middle East, Charles Leclerc looked poised to secure the Scuderia's first win of the season until engine issues dropped him from first to third as Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag for the Silver Arrows. Likewise in Canada, Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line first but received a controversial 5-second penalty which meant Hamilton was awarded the victory.
After their hot start, Mercedes' momentum has cooled somewhat. The German manufacturer has won only two of the last six races as Red Bull and Ferrari have split the other four.
Nevertheless, Hamilton is still comfortably ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in the standings with 284 points to 221 and with Mercedes occupying the top two positions in the drivers' championship, Wolff can look forward to a record-breaking campaign.
Last year, Mercedes won its fifth consecutive double (drivers and constructors), equalling the all-time record set by Ferrari between 2000 and 2004.
Wolff, who has led the team since 2013, said: "Ferrari won six straight constructors' (titles) yes. But if we win six doubles, we are ahead. And that is the main target that is in front of us at the moment."
Since the introduction of the turbo-hybrid regulations in 2014, Mercedes have won 94 of 128 races under Wolff's leadership. The team have taken 100 of 128 pole positions, 65 front-row lockouts and 193 from 256 possible podium finishes.
But is his crew feeling the pressure of keeping up their phenomenal run this term?
"It does (play on your mind) but you mustn't drop the ball," he said. "It is about really looking at every single session, optimising every day, and then hopefully, scoring lots of points on Sunday.
"And then you add the weekends, and every