Motor racing-Mercedes have not given up on title defence, says Elliott

Formula One F1 - Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - May 20, 2022 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during practice REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Mercedes have not given up on defending their Formula One constructors' title despite a difficult start to the season, the team's technical director Mike Elliott said on Saturday.

The team, who have won the last eight world championships, are third overall after five races and 63 points adrift of leaders Ferrari, with Red Bull second and 57 points ahead of Mercedes.

"Of course. We wouldn't be here otherwise," Elliott said when asked at the Spanish Grand Prix whether Mercedes believed they could still win the 2022 championship.

"Until it's mathematically over, it's not over. We're not a huge distance behind. If we can get the car to a position where we're competitive and hopefully out in front then there's every chance.

"But we've got to have a level of humility. These guys (Red Bull) have made a really good start, Ferrari have made a really good start and they are not going to be easy to chase down."

Red Bull's defending world champion Max Verstappen has won three of the five races so far and Ferrari's championship leader Charles Leclerc the other two.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who fought to the last lap of the final race in 2021, is 68 points behind Leclerc and 23 adrift of his own Mercedes team mate George Russell.

Mercedes' spirits have been raised, however, by upgrades to their car in Barcelona that appear to have reduced the amount of bouncing previously experienced.

"We felt like we made a good step forward yesterday," said Elliott.

"The car seemed a lot more settled. It did what we were hoping for it to do."

Elliott said chasing their rivals was a healthy challenge.

"It's quite nice to be coming from behind. There's a chunk of pressure ... but it's been amazing to see the amount of effort at the factory," he said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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