Battle continues with Round 12 of the 2017 season from the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
'For the first time ever, the champion team has maintained its status as a pacesetter'
The summer shutdown came at the perfect time for us to make a step back and take stock of our season so far. It has been a good one – and has shown a lot of the qualities of our team.
We have overcome a difficult start to testing and significantly improved a fast but tricky car; we have won six races from 11, including victories for both our drivers; we trail in one championship by 14 points, and lead the other by 39. But it hasn’t been easy sailing. We have learned hard lessons, grown strong as a group and there are still many areas for us to keep improving.
It was clear to all of us that 2017 would be a very different season to the three that came before. Then, we had the luxury of a performance advantage to the rest of the field, which meant our two drivers were fighting for the title between themselves.
For this year, the rules were changed to reset the competitive balance across the field. And it worked. For the first time ever, the champion team has maintained its status as a pacesetter after a big rule change and we are proud that we laid down that marker. But that is now history. We have been joined by Ferrari and also Red Bull as the season has developed. This is the new reality we are racing in now and we are open-minded enough to adapt our approach to those new circumstances.
'The motivation and determination in the factory are greater than ever'
Our targets remain the same as they were before the first race: to win both championships. History has shown that the fastest car usually brings you the drivers’ title; and the best and most consistent driver pairing wins you the constructors’. So the priorities are clear: we must keep bringing performance to the car at every race – and keep racing without mistakes to maximise our performance potential at every track.
From what we have seen in the first half of the season, the competitive balance will swing one way and another from circuit to circuit. Red Bull will be a threat if they can build on the performance they showed in Hungary. So we need to keep our heads down, stay humble regarding our strengths, diligent about our weaknesses and take the season weekend by weekend.
On paper, people will assume that Spa should suit our car because it is a circuit where aerodynamic efficiency is extremely important. But assumptions are dangerous – we have seen too many times already this season that the form book can be rewritten from one weekend to the next. So we will be making no assumptions; we have to tick off the items on our work list and make sure we do the best job to maximise our potential points score.
The motivation and determination in the factory are greater than ever. Hungary showed the strength of our team – and we intend to use the second half of this season to prove that strength.