Motor racing: Mercedes have the champions T-shirts ready

Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany and his team mate Lewis Hamilton (R) of Britain, celebrate after qualified for the pole and second position respectively for the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia Oct 10, 2015.
Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany and his team mate Lewis Hamilton (R) of Britain, celebrate after qualified for the pole and second position respectively for the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia Oct 10, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Mercedes gave up any pretence about not tempting fate on Saturday by acknowledging they already had their '2015 Formula One world champions' T-shirts printed and ready to wear in Russia.

The reigning champions need only score three points more than Ferrari on Sunday to retain the constructors' title they won for the first time at Sochi's Olympic Park circuit last October.

With Nico Rosberg on pole position and championship-leading team mate Lewis Hamilton alongside on the front row, there is every chance of another Mercedes one-two securing the title in style.

It has become something of a habit for teams to pretend they have made no special preparations, not wanting to count any unhatched chickens, only to don celebratory T-shirts within seconds of taking the title.

With Mercedes 169 points clear of Ferrari, and only five races remaining including Sunday's, the German manufacturers' motorsports head Toto Wolff recognised it was more a question of when than if.

"The T-shirts are upstairs," he told reporters. "We can pretend tomorrow that we haven't printed them, and then suddenly everybody wears one. Knock on wood, it's not a good omen to talk about T-shirts the day before the race.

"But eventually, hopefully, we are going to wear them."

Mercedes have won 11 of 14 races so far, with eight one-two finishes, and staff can expect significant bonuses again this season. "It would be a very big achievement," said Wolff.

"It would be the second title, as Mercedes the constructors' championship makes us proud. We add another little bit of history to the 1950s and 2014.

"And nobody can take that away from us.

"Obviously, the drivers' championship is the one that is very relevant to all the fans and that is then the next box we have to tick and that is not a given that it is going to be easy." Hamilton is 48 points clear of Rosberg and looking likely at the moment to wrap up his third crown with a race or two to spare.

However, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is still mathematically a threat, 59 points adrift of the Briton after winning three races.