Mercedes needs to go through the current difficulties of being beaten by Red Bull to be stronger in the future, according to team principal Toto Wolff.

Red Bull has won the last five races and six of the opening nine this season, with Max Verstappen winning the last three in a row to open up a 32-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship. Despite Mercedes not having the pace to match Red Bull in Austria, however, Wolff believes the switch from being the dominant team of the last seven years to second quickest is an important learning experience.

“It is a very enjoyable life experiment that I see ourselves in,” Wolff said. “I think we have a great mindset in the team and the values that we have are the immune system of the team. And the immune system means you need to function when things are going bad and after seven consecutive championships we are in a situation where we are fighting a tough battle at the moment against all odds as it stands.

“And that is… I wouldn’t say enjoyable is the right word but that is a new experience that is going to make us stronger in the long run and every day is a new learning experience and every day makes us stronger, even if we have many consecutive weekends that are tough. I think we will look back many years from now and say that was necessary.”

Wolff also insists Mercedes will not write-off its championship hopes even after switching full focus to its 2022 car, because he believes the 44-point deficit in the constructors’ championship is bigger than it should be based on his team’s potential.

“We never resign any battle, it is the last thing we do … I am always a skeptical person, half empty glass, but in this case I am seeing the positives,” Wolff said. “And the positives are there are 13-14 races to go, we are one DNF away from Red Bull, no more, and we have lost more points than we should have lost to our own mistakes, so this is on.

“Clearly in Austria, in the last few races, we didn’t have the performance we must have in order to fight Red Bull and we are very aware of that and we need to just get our act together in every single area and hopefully perform better on the other tracks.”