Mercedes believes that the layout of the Circuit de Monaco, venue for next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, should favour title rivals Red Bull.
Mercedes has won three of the opening four races in a tight battle with Red Bull and currently holds a 29-point advantage in the Constructors’ Championship.
Lewis Hamilton, who has taken those three victories, leads Max Verstappen – winner at Imola – by 14 points in the Drivers’ standings.
Mercedes has had mixed fortunes in Monaco across recent seasons, having been defeated by Ferrari and Red Bull across 2017 and 2018, prior to triumphing in 2019 – the last time the race was held.
“The car and the circuit have evolved a bit since then but we’ve had years in quite recent memory where we’ve gone with a perfectly good car and made a bit of a hash of it by not getting it in the right window,” said Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
“It’s a circuit where you adapt the car an awful lot. On paper, I would say it would suit Red Bull more than us.
“Partly that’s because we’ve been running our max downforce wing [in Spain] and we saw it on their car on Friday but they didn’t race it, so they can put a bit more downforce on.
“On paper, it’s probably [good] for them but then we’ve had good pace in the slow speed [in Spain] – that’s normally a good indicator for Monaco and Monaco is an awfully difficult race to win and even if you go there with the best car and you’ve got a great package, it’s still an awfully difficult race to win.
“We will see where we are and if we’re not the quickest then we will try and make their life difficult.”
Shovlin nonetheless believes Mercedes holds a tyre advantage in race trim off the back of information gathered through the early rounds.
“We’re still in the stage of the year where you’re collecting data across the different tracks but it does look to be a bit of a trend that maybe we’ve got a slightly more neutral car,” he said.
“Theirs seems to be a bit harder on the rear tyres over a stint whereas we’re using both axles quite well.
“We will see with some more data whether that’s really a feature of the car or just how we’re setting it up [in Spain].”