Toto Wolff is adamant Mercedes has the best driver line-up in F1 with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Russell joined the Silver Arrows last season after a three-year education in the sport at the back of the grid with Williams.
Russell instantly impressed with a run of top-five finishes up to his British Grand Prix retirement, all in spite of Mercedes' struggles with the W13's drag efficiency and porpoising.
The Briton then took the team's only victory of the season at the São Paulo Grand Prix, heading Hamilton in a one-two.
For seven-time champion Hamilton, finishing behind Russell was primarily a consequence of Mercedes' early-season experimenting as the team attempted to overcome its issues.
Across the entirety of the campaign, the momentum swung between both drivers, with Russell making mistakes in the latter third of the year.
Russell "very self-critical"
But Wolff is unmoved by the swings in fortunes and told GPFans: "George is always very self-critical, which is one of the assets that make him a future world champion.
"He has been thrown now into the Mercedes works team, we keep developing the car, and if you ask me now, the final results look different.
"Like at the beginning of the year, you could say George was doing very well, and then in the last third of the year, it was Lewis.
"But in terms of optimum performance, we have the combination of the two best drivers, the strongest line-up.
"And therefore, we are always going to see those cycles, in my opinion between the two."