“We came to Montreal expecting our car to be really strong," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said after the Canada Grand Prix. "And we are leaving seeing we haven’t been where we thought we should be.
“You can’t come to Montreal and think it’s going to be a walk in the park, because that’s the kind of wake-up call you get.”
“It’s a three-way fight, six cars can win races. You can’t take anything for granted."
Those comments from Wolff were unimaginable at the start of the season when most expected yet another year of Mercedes dominance.
The worry had firmly become that Formula One was too predictable, that Wolff, Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton had such a stranglehold on the competition that it was over before it began.
Now, however, Mercedes are struggling; Hamilton's fifth-place finish in Montreal saw him give up the season lead to rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, and things haven't gone to plan at all over the last two races.
And now Wolff believes that a 'new reality' has come to the sport - and one they possibly weren't prepared for.
A rule change has dictated that teams must use no more than three engines over the course of a 21-race season - something that proved to be a problem in Montreal as Mercedes were left waiting for a new engine while their rivals debuted new ones.
And the use of limited engines could be, according to Wolff, where the championship is won.
Wolff declared that the title could very well be won by those who “bring the best development onto the engine on every single weekend - and that is the new reality.”
Expanding on his points, Wolff said: “You have to come to the weekend, all your preparation work has to be spot on.
“There’s no time to be lost in terms of preparation on the Friday because it’s going to come and bite you.”
From certain dominance to trying to win on fine margins - this season has been a rollercoaster already for Mercedes.
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