Belfast Telegraph

Mercedes have set new benchmark: Fernando Alonso

By Ian Parkes

Fernando Alonso believes Mercedes to be the surprise of the Formula One season – and now the benchmark for Ferrari to aspire to.

Come the start of the campaign, rumours implied Mercedes had adapted more to the new regulations compared to fellow power-train suppliers Ferrari and Renault.

But it is fair to assume no-one expected Mercedes to blow away their rivals as they have done this season and usurp Red Bull as the force to beat.

From the 11 grands prix over the first period of the season, Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have claimed 10 poles and won nine races between them.

With eight grands prix to run once F1 returns from its summer break later this month, it is simply a question of when and not if Mercedes will win the constructors' championship and one of their drivers the main prize.

"Mercedes have surprised everybody," said double world champion Alonso.

"I would say they have been the biggest surprise this year. They provide motivation for us. We know we can do a better job as we haven't done a good one so far.

"We are making some progress, but the benchmark has changed –last year it was Red Bull, this year it's Mercedes."

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