Mercedes must be considered an "outlier" following its terrible Sao Paulo Grand Prix performance given its success, believes boss Toto Wolff.
The eight-time champions struggled badly at Interlagos, with a combination of tyre degradation, low straight-line speed and reliability concerns meaning the team only picked up four points through Lewis Hamilton's eighth place as George Russell retired after both dropped back from promising grid spots and starts.
It capped off a poor season for the Brackley team in which its zero sidepod concept was firmly abandoned while it has struggled to find performance to the resculpted W14 to try and match Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
Despite the performance, Wolff is optimistic as he believes the weekend firmly showed the team the direction it needs to go to get back in race-winning contention.
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Wolff: Mercedes are an outlier
A lot of change, but this is our route. Fundamentally different car next year. And today proves that that is the right thing to do. Or confirms that it's right.
"This is our route, and we will have a fundamentally different car next year," Wolff told media including RacingNews365.
"[This race] proves that it is the right thing to do.
"Last year, you come out of an Interlagos weekend and you're absolutely on top, you're demolishing your competition on Saturday and Sunday, and it was like: 'Are we doing the right thing by continuing with the chassis that we have?'
"Now it is pretty clear. It feels horrible for the whole team, and I wish we could start the new season and concentrate on the new car.
"The glass is always half-empty, but what we know is that we're changing the car completely.
"We are an outlier, we're an outlier compared to the last eight years when we've been at the front solidly, we've structured people to perform at the front, whether it is winning championships or not, and I think it more than confirmed that the steps we have taken are necessary."