Mercedes says it is wary that the high-speed sections of upcoming circuits Imola and Portimao could mean it is further adrift then where it was in Bahrain.
Mercedes trailed Red Bull throughout practice at the season-opening round in Bahrain before Max Verstappen went on to beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position by almost four-tenths of a second.
Mercedes turned the tables in race trim by twice using the undercut to lift Hamilton in the lead, which he narrowly preserved against Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas classified third.
Speaking after the race, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin outlined that “we are certainly hoping this is not one of our finest tracks because we have had quite a tough time.
“I think we got the car in a decent window by the end, but it’s been awfully hard work and if we look at Red Bull through the test and practice, their car has worked really well and not looked weak at any point.
“Hopefully we will find circuits that suit us more than this, but looking to Imola and Portimao, I don’t think we are good enough in the high-speed and there is plenty of that in Imola and Portimao.
“That’s one area where they have got an advantage on us at the moment.”
Shovlin is nonetheless optimistic that Mercedes has inherent performance that it has not yet been able to extract from the W12.
“We still don’t think we have got the best car but we also don’t think we have got the most out of the package yet,” he said.
“When you develop the car there are lots of areas you look to exploit performance from and some of them we don’t think have delivered everything they should.
“We are going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car over the next couple of races.
“I think it’s going to be tough and at those circuits there are elements that will move us in the right direction, but we have struggled with the rear end in Bahrain and those circuits are a bit easier in that regard, but as I said, high speed is something that we wouldn’t be naïve in thinking that will be a strength of ours at those tracks.”