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Mercedes might deliberately lose in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes might deliberately lose in Abu Dhabi
© Reuters
A wild rumour suggests Mercedes may actually want to be beaten by Ferrari to second overall in the 2023 constructors' championship this weekend.

A wild rumour suggests Mercedes may actually want to be beaten by Ferrari to second overall in the 2023 constructors' championship this weekend.

While Red Bull has already wrapped up the championship, Mercedes heads into the Abu Dhabi season finale a mere four points ahead of Ferrari.

Curiously, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said last time out in Las Vegas that he is not really interested in the outcome.

"It's about winning," he told Sky Deutschland. "It makes a difference for the employees, including financially, but I don't really care."

While it's true that the second-placed team receives millions more than third in official F1 prize money, the lower-ranked team actually gets more wind tunnel development time as per the complex modern F1 regulations.

Former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher therefore admits that it's not absurd to suggest Wolff's strategy might be to lose to Ferrari in Abu Dhabi.

"The regulations encourage such theories," he told Sport1.

"Although you get a lot more money in second place than third place, you also lose valuable wind tunnel time.

"It's staggered," Schumacher explained. "The world champion gets the least, the last guy gets the most. As the person responsible for a top team that wants to get back to the top in 2024, you'd have to carefully consider what is better."

Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur, however, made the Maranello based team's position clear - beating Mercedes.

"That is our goal," said the Frenchman.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc agrees: "Yeah, this is clearly the target. It's going to be tight."

As for whether Ferrari can realistically then challenge Red Bull for the 2024 world championship, however, teammate Carlos Sainz answered: "I think it's a realistic goal, yes.

"Will we achieve it? Only time will tell.

"But I want the team to think that it is possible, because I think so. We have seen that if McLaren was able to take those steps during the season, I am perfectly convinced that Ferrari can do it during the winter break."

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Carlos Sainz at the United States GP on October 19, 2023
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