Mercedes improvement linked to illegal test, say rivals
Mercedes rivals are still showing signs of resentment over the German team's private tyre test and they now think it has become a major rival for the championship.
Mercedes has won two of the three races since it took part in its tyre test with Pirelli after the Spanish Grand Prix, moving it up to second in the constructors' championship. Nico Rosberg won in Monaco and again at Silverstone last weekend as the team suffered none of the issues with rear tyre degradation it had experienced in Spain in May.
Red Bull still leads the constructors' and drivers' championship, but team principal Christian Horner thinks Mercedes is now a serious rival.
"They are a good team with a quick car and good drivers," he said. "They are for sure a contender between now and the end of the year. As are Ferrari and as are Lotus, but Mercedes, there is no reason at all [why they can't challenge]. There is a long way to go in this championship."
Asked what he made of the Mercedes' sudden turnaround in form since the Pirelli test, Horner said: "That's for you to judge. How many [races] had they won before [the test]?"
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, whose team has now dropped to fourth in the constructors', has no doubts that Mercedes gained a significant advantage at the test.
"Two wins out of the three races after they tested, so the conclusion is easy," he said. "It is just facts. Two races won out of the three."
Asked if it could be a coincidence, he added: "I don't think so. If we were racing on coincidence in Formula One I would know it."
Ferrari is also wary of the threat posed by Mercedes as they dropped to third in the constructors' after Silverstone.
"We have seen that not only Red Bull is strong, but Mercedes is very, very strong," team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "They have solved their issues in terms of degradation. So now if we want to win the championship we need to improve the car and that's the only thing that we have to do."