Mercedes stopped focusing on developing its dominant 2020 Formula 1 car “a long time ago”, team principal Toto Wolff has revealed. 

Mercedes has won all but two of the opening 11 races of the 2020 season and claimed pole position at every round so far, though Red Bull appeared to cut some of its deficit over the Eifel Grand Prix weekend. 

Max Verstappen topped Q3 during the opening runs in qualifying as he got within three-tenths of taking pole position for the first time this year, before finishing the race just 4.5s behind winner Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull chief Christian Horner felt his team had taken “a step closer” to Mercedes at the Nurburgring and was hopeful of challenging its main rival in the final six races of the year.

But Mercedes has not introduced any new updates to its W11 for a while having shifted focus onto 2021, according to team boss Wolff. 

"We finished them a long time ago,” Wolff said when asked about 2020 upgrades.

“That has always been in the past what we looked at. It’s a very thoroughly thought-through decision, because not in every championship can you afford to close the book early.

"But the rules changed quite a lot for next year and, in that respect, we decided to, like in previous years, switch to next year's car.

"This is why you can see the shifting performance between the teams. We always have a very strong start and middle of the season, and then whoever continues to develop is strong at the end.”

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted that Red Bull was currently making progress quicker.

"I think they are developing quicker than we are at the moment," Shovlin explained.

"And we've seen that progressively. But to be honest, we've seen that in most of the recent years, they tend not to start as strongly as we do.

"I can't really think of a year recently where they've not been with us by the end.

"So if we see that trend continue, then the remaining races are going to get tougher, and it will be harder to try and keep getting the pole on Saturday and winning on a Sunday.”

Mercedes is set to claim an unprecedented seventh world championship double this season and will have its first chance to record its seventh constructors’ title at the Portuguese Grand Prix. 

Holding a 180-point advantage in the standings, Mercedes would successful defend its crown with five races to spare if it were to outscore Red Bull by 40 points at Portimao. 

 

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