Formula One champions Mercedes expect to be beaten by Ferrari this season and also see McLaren catching up fast after a dismal 2015 for the Honda-powered team, engine head Andy Cowell said.
“Nobody here is assuming we are going to win. Everybody here is assuming we’re going to get beaten by Ferrari, and Honda are a big threat,” the BBC quoted the Mercedes executive as saying on a recent factory visit.
Ferrari won three of 19 races last season, the first year at Maranello for four-times champion Sebastian Vettel after the German’s move from Red Bull.
Mercedes won the rest, with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton clinching his third title and winning 10 grands prix to team mate Nico Rosberg’s six. The team have won 32 of 38 races in the last two years.
McLaren, the sport’s second most successful team after Ferrari, have not won a race since 2012 and were powered by Mercedes engines until starting a new partnership with Honda last year.
They have Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Britain’s Jenson Button, both champions, racing for them.