Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff thinks it is vital that it beats Ferrari to second place in the constructors' championship this year.
With Red Bull now all but assured of its fourth consecutive world title double, the focus of Ferrari and Mercedes is on ending the year as its nearest challenger. Wolff says achieving that ambition is imperative, not only because of financial benefits but because it will show its team is ready to step up for a full-on title tilt on 2014.
"It is important," said Wolff about ending the year as runner-up. "We have made a step forward and, at the moment, it looks like we are OK for third. But we are still very motivated and want to be at least the second best."
Although Mercedes has taken just one podium finish since the summer break and has slipped back to third in the standings, Wolff still thinks the team is faster than Ferrari.
"I'm obviously biased, but if I look at the performance of the car – even in the Singapore race – I would say we are number two at the moment. It's just the performance curve flattens out as you keep improving. It is something you see at the end of the season, and it is normal. But we are keeping to put parts on the car, and there are still points we are gaining."
Although ending the year as runner-up would be a good platform for 2014, Wolff admits that Red Bull's current advantage means the team will start next season as favorites one again.
"Performance is being driven by people, and because people are staying where they are in most of the top teams I don't think there will be a big swing in the balance between the top teams," he said. "It could be a bit more of an engine formula next year, but again if you look at the infrastructure Ferrari has in Maranello, and the French [Renault] in Viry, they are equally as motivated as we are. I don't see huge differences."