Mercedes were able to fend off fast-charging Max Verstappen to win their first race of the season. But according to Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, they still have work to do to catch up with Red Bull.
When questioned on the prospects of the car, Shovlin said, "I don't think we're good enough in the high-speed, and there's plenty of that in Imola and Portimao, and that's one area where they've got an advantage on us at the moment."
Talking about their performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Shovlin said,"
"Bahrain's quite an outlier circuit - it's very hard on the rear tires, and it's been really windy here. We've had 30/40 km/h wind, which is pretty much the upper end of what you'd see in a normal race season."
"At Mercedes, we're certainly hoping that this is not one of our finest tracks because we've really had quite a tough time, and I think we've got the car in a decent window by the end. But it's been awfully hard work."
"If you look at Red Bull through the test, through free practice, their car just works really well. They've not looked weak at any point. Hopefully, we'll find circuits that do suit us more than this."
We haven't got everything out of the package yet: Mercedes
With Mercedes seemingly on the backfoot, Shovlin admitted that the team didn't think it had the fastest car on the grid. It did however feel that there was scope for improvement and Mercedes would be working hard to bring the performance to the car in the next few races.
"What's our mindset? We still don't think we've got the best car, but we don't think we've got everything out of the package yet.", Shovlin said.
"When you develop a car, there are lots of areas that you look to exploit for performance, and some of them we don't think have delivered everything that they should. So we're going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car in the next couple of races. But I think it's going to be tough."
"With those circuits, there are elements that I think will move us in the right direction. We have struggled with the rear end here in Bahrain and those circuits are a bit easier in that regard. But high-speed is something we wouldn't be naive in thinking that's going to be the strength of ours at those tracks."
Despite what the team claims, Mercedes was not a significantly slower car than Red Bull in Bahrain. The only time Red Bull did stretch the gap was in Q3 when Verstappen put together a lap three tenths quicker than Mercedes. It would be interesting to see how the teams stack up at Imola and whether Mercedes are a significant distance behind Red Bull.