With five full races to spare, Mercedes this weekend has its first opportunity to wrap up the 2014 constructors' world championship. Utterly dominant this season, the German team is 174 points clear heading into Suzuka, meaning a one-two on Sunday with Red Bull scoring fewer than 3 points would wrap it up with Sochi, Austin, Brazil and Abu Dhabi still to run. "Every single one of us wants to finish 2014 in style," confirmed team boss Toto Wolff.
Mercedes is also the overwhelming favourite for the drivers' title, but the close battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and a marked record in the reliability stakes means that Daniel Ricciardo remains remotely in the running for now. Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is keeping the pressure high, insisting that the tension between Hamilton and Rosberg still threatens to derail the silver team.
"This peace (between the drivers) is not real," he exclaimed to the major German daily Bild ahead of the Japanese grand prix. "Eventually, Hamilton and Rosberg will be side by side again, and when they see it is the title in front of them, there are no more rules," added Marko. "And when the silver arrows explode again, we will be there to beat them."
Marko also hopes Mercedes' poor reliability record of late, including former championship leader Nico Rosberg's steering wheel failure in Singapore, continues to worsen. "Further losses for them plays in our favour in the championship fight," said the outspoken Austrian. "Mercedes can still throw the championship away." (GMM)