Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin has conceded Red Bull’s recent performances have wiped away any complacency that may have crept into the reigning F1 champions.
Mercedes is facing a battle to retain its titles this year after regulation changes over the winter eliminated its aerodynamic advantage and allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to challenge Lewis Hamilton.
This weekend's race at Monza would typically suit Mercedes, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stating it will be damage limitation for his team at both that venue and subsequent event in Russia.
But after Verstappen ruled the roost at Zandvoort, Shovlin is not expecting Mercedes to have it all its own way at the 'Temple of Speed'.
“Our cars have worked well [at Monza] over the years," said Shovlin. "It’s a track that we have been strong at and I think it’s a drag level that we have seen our car work reasonably well at.
“In Spa, the indications on Friday in the dry were that we were looking really good on both single lap and long runs.
"But we are under no illusion that it will be a challenge and I think losing [the Dutch GP] certainly wipes any complacency out of your system.”
Monza Mercedes’ happy hunting ground
Mercedes won the first five races at Monza of the current turbo-hybrid era.
It missed out last year due to car issues and penalties and finished second and third in 2019 following robust defending from victorious Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
Despite that impressive record, Shovlin is less confident heading into this year’s Italian race after seeing the team win just one of the last nine and knows there is plenty of work to do if it is to triumph again.
Shovlin added: “We are not going to walk into Monza expecting that we can just do our normal thing and walk away with a win. We are expecting to really have to work for it and we are expecting to have to get everything right.
“We will be putting all our efforts into preparing for that because the goal and the target are to go there and get back in the lead of both championships.”