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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has gone on record to say that even though Ferrari is now well and truly a big competitor this season, it will only serve as motivation for his team.

Two defeats in the opening three races of this year’s championship has added to the bitterness between the two constructors, but Wolff is taking it all in his stride.

A series of ‘marginal losses’ – including generator issues leaving pole man Valtteri Bottas with excessive tyre pressures and a five-second penalty for Lewis Hamilton for slowing unnecessarily in the pit-lane – played their part, but Mercedes accepts its faces a formidable contender with the Ferrari in Sebastian Vettel’s hands.

All this comes after enjoying nearly total domination for three years, but even though the going has been tough with the revamped rules and regulations, Wolff has sought solace in their win at the Chinese Grand Prix.

For a team basking in the limelight recently, it is undeniable that losing has come as a bitter pill to swallow. “We have enjoyed winning in China, a lot, and in hindsight it’s a good motivation as well.

“Probably for Formula 1 it’s good as well if there’s a fight between Ferrari and Mercedes, so we have to see it like sportsmen, we have a fight that’s on and that is how it is, even though it feels s**t right now!”

On whether he feels Mercedes is ready to fend off its first outward foe in the fight for this year’s title, Wolff is expecting the team to show real character from now on in.

“In the last three years we had an internal fight of course you set your mindset in that direction and this is a new situation which I’m sure the team will handle well. I’m seeing positives, change of regulations, and we’re in the fight for race wins and we’re in the fight for the titles at the moment you can say that, but I think there’s just generally good news.”

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