Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists his team will not be backing off in the final two races of the 2017 Formula One season, despite having already sealed both world championships.
The German manufacturer clinched a fourth consecutive constructors' championship at the United States Grand Prix, before Lewis Hamilton won his fourth drivers' title with two races to spare one week later at the Mexican Grand Prix. Mercedes faced direct competition for both world titles this year, as Ferrari enjoyed a resurgence in form in 2017, leading the drivers' standings for much of the campaign.
However, a nightmare run of results across the three Asian races in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan handed Mercedes the chance to wrap up both titles early. Mercedes says it can now "become a little bolder" in the final two races of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, allowing the team to trail "new and interesting" concepts in anticipation for an intense fight in 2018.
"It might be tempting to think that, with both championships now secure, the pressure is off for the two remaining races of 2017. But that couldn't be further from the truth," Wolff said. "Inside the team, we are looking at the next two race weekends as the first two Grands Prix of 2018.
"We have two races that we are determined to win in order to take that positive momentum into the winter. There will be no backing off just because the championship business is now done. In fact, these next two races speak to every principle that makes us what we are.
"We aspire to excellence in everything we do, from the first lap of the winter shakedown in Silverstone to the final lap of the post-season test in Abu Dhabi. And every time we race, we race to win. That is the mind-set we take to Sao Paulo."
While Hamilton was able to wrap up the drivers' title in Mexico, Ferrari claimed pole and Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominated the race. Following strong performances from its rivals last time out, Wolff said he is expecting a close fight for victory at this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.
"Lewis is operating at the peak of his powers right now, and will be determined to add another victory to last year's success; Valtteri made a promising step forward in Mexico and will aim to build from this at Interlagos.
"As recent rounds have shown, winning Grands Prix is never easy. Red Bull have taken two victories in the past four races and, although we have claimed the other two, Ferrari remain formidable opponents. With the championship now settled, the battle for 2018 has already begun."