Max Verstappen may be 63 points behind in the title race but with ten grands prix still to be run, Toto Wolff fears the Red Bull driver is a threat to Mercedes’ run.
Verstappen has been the man on form in the last few races.
He has claimed two victories in three races and starts Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position having pipped Valtteri Bottas by 0.018s.
Asked by Motorsport.com if Verstappen was a genuine title threat, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff replied: “Yes.
“I think there are 10 more races to go, so 260 points to score. What’s our advantage? Sixty-odd?
“You can see from the sheer maths that Max is somebody we need to take seriously and consider as a title rival in the same way we need to consider the two Ferrari drivers as title rivals.
“We cannot afford to take the foot off the throttle.”
He added: “First of all the Red Bull chassis was always among the best, and it still is, and then Honda has made a big step forward from last year to this year, and all credit to them.
“I’m happy to see that for F1, because a strong Honda is good for F1, good for the competition, and at the end if there’s a fourth power unit supplier that has a competitive package that is generally positive for all of us.
“And it also shows us that we’ve got to reinvent ourselves in a way, and I see this as really positive journey.”
Following his loss to Verstappen in qualifying, Bottas told the media at the Hungaroring that Red Bull’s form will only encourage Mercedes to push harder.
Wolff responded to that: “I think he’s damn right.
“We had a good streak of success, and it feels now that probably the push that we need to do is even more. The others are catching up, and it’s easier to catch up than to maintain the level and setting the benchmark.
“There’s a reason why no one ever won six consecutive Driver and Constructor Championships, because it is not easy. I guess we all know that, but we’ve got to push harder and smarter in order to stay ahead.”
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