Mercedes looking to increase the gap at the front

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Mercedes may have won the opening four races of the 2014 Formula 1 season with relative ease, but team boss Toto Wolff has set his sights on increasing the gap to the chasing pack at the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.

The opening European round of the season marks the first opportunity for the teams to introduce major upgrade packages to their cars that should provide added performance. Whilst the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari see this as a chance to cut the gap to Mercedes, the German team will instead be looking to widen this margin with new parts and upgrades.

“We are now four races into the 2014 season and hold a strong position in both championships,” Wolff said. “However, the first European round of the year always provides a prime opportunity for teams to arrive with improvements to their cars.

“Of course, we are no different to any other team in that respect and our aim must be to increase the advantage we enjoyed at the last race in China.”

Said advantage was over 25 seconds in China as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg romped to yet another one-two finish. It was the third maximum haul of 43 points in a row, and the Silver Arrows have scored 154 of 182 possible points so far this year.

Nevertheless, Wolff is wary of the chasing pack, especially given how Red Bull has improved since the beginning of testing in January.

“We have seen already that our rivals are relentless in their efforts to close the gap,” he said. “As a team, it is up to us to rise to that challenge: to take that relentless mentality to an even greater extent than those around us. If we are to build a sustained level of success in this sport, any small advantage must be seen as a platform upon which to build a bigger advantage.

“We head to Barcelona on good form and in high spirits,” he added. “But, most importantly, we approach the next race weekend as we approached the first: in the knowledge that there is still a long season ahead and anything can happen.”

For the sake of the championship, it might be good to see a challenger rise to Mercedes’ dominance, but given the form of both Hamilton and Rosberg at the beginning of the season, it will come as little surprise if the gap grows again.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”