Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff claims the reigning world champions are “fearing everybody” amid sweeping regulation changes for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign.
The German manufacturer has been the dominant force since 2014 and the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged power units, securing 51 race wins and three championship doubles over the past three years.
This season will see the advent of wider and more aggressive-looking cars fitted with bigger Pirelli tyres and generating 20 percent more downforce.
Despite the aero overhaul, Mercedes has been tipped to retain its edge given that engine rules have not been tweaked save for the scrapping of the tokens system.
“I was nervous four years ago [Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013] when we started our journey, on whether we would be able to win races and championships soon,” the Mercedes boss told BBC 5 live Sport.
“We have done that over the last years so the nervousness has gone down a bit. Equally there is a risk and we would not want to fall into the trap of being complacent. These regulation changes come at the right time and we’re super motivated in getting it right.
“It’s not a given though. We don’t know. There could be the odd silver bullet like Ross [Brawn] had back in 2009 with the double diffuser [on the Brawn GP car that helped Jenson Button secure that year’s title].
“We will see probably in the second Barcelona test if somebody has new innovations on the car that others have not spotted.
“Through a regulation change, you need to fear everybody because nobody would have expected Brawn GP to be a championship contender in 2009 so we look at everybody as there are opportunities for everyone.”
Mercedes will unveil its 2017-spec W08 on February 23 at Silverstone.