Mercedes wary of new threat to Lewis Hamilton’s bid to break Michael Schumacher record

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Mercedes’ technology director Mike Elliot believes Red Bull will be their “strongest opposition” in the upcoming F1 season, with the addition of Sergio Perez as a replacement for Alex Albon boosting Red Bull’s chances. Mercedes have dominated the sport in recent years, winning the last seven world titles.

Lewis Hamilton has won of his seven world titles with Mercedes and he is hoping to win a record eighth title this season to go past Michael Schumacher’s record.

However, Elliot believes Red Bull could provide some stiff competition, naming their driver line-up as the strongest outside of Mercedes.

Speaking in conversation with The Muscle Help Foundation, Elliot said: “When you look at the teams we are competing against you’re obviously going to look at Red Bull.

“They will be our strongest opposition and I think in Verstappen they have a very good driver, and I think Perez will be a strong second driver to him for scoring points when Verstappen doesn’t or supporting in their bid for the constructors’ Championship.

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“Then I think if you look at the key drivers, [Charles] Leclerc is obviously a really good driver.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how [Sebastian] Vettel gets on at Aston Martin, see whether he can reignite his career.

“Then I think most Mercedes people, as well as looking at our own drivers, probably would also follow what George [Russell] is doing at Williams.”

However, Mercedes remain firm favourites to win another world title this year but Elliot is keen to ensure the team do not get complacent.

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“There’s a quote from Niki Lauda, he said ‘you learn nothing from winning, it’s from losing that you learn’ because the reaction to a loss is huge, the emotional reaction to a loss is much more powerful than to gain,” he added.

“When you lose, you are driven to find out why. We see that in the team.

“When we lose a race we think ‘why did we lose that?’

“The reaction to go and find out why, gather all the learning you possibly can, and turn that into the next step in performance is huge.

“And I know Toto [Wolff] said something in the press a few years ago which was ‘the day we lose is the day the opposition should fear’, and I think that is sort of taking Niki’s comment to the extreme.

“But I think there is that sort of feeling within the team of ‘yes, we’ve won seven but there’s still a long way to go to perfection’.

“As soon as you start looking at yourself in the mirror and think ‘we are the winners, we are the guys that have done it year after year’ is the day you fail.

“You’ve got to have a level of humility. The opposition are strong, if we fall asleep they will beat us, and even if we don’t fall asleep they may well beat us, so the best thing we can do is focus on how we keep getting better week in, week out.”

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