Lewis Hamilton claims that Mercedes is operating one and a half seconds slower per lap during the race than rivals Red Bull.
Red Bull dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month, taking a 1-2 finish with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Mercedes, who was hopeful of taking a step forward following its off-form 2022 campaign, finished over 50 seconds off the lead.
Hamilton crossed the line in fifth place while team-mate George Russell was seventh in what was a disappointing debut for the W14 car.
Hamilton says that Mercedes’ deficit this year appears to be in the corners, where it is losing well over a second to Red Bull.
“It’s not on the straights,” Hamilton said, when asked where Mercedes is losing out. “I think last year we were very draggy.
“We were struggling not only on the straights, we had to take a much bigger wing, but we were equalling, or if not, losing in the corners as well.
“This year, it’s mostly through the corners. I think down the straights we’re quick. But exits – these guys have a lot of rear end through the majority of the corners.
“So, I think in the race they weren’t pushing. And so I think they’re a lot quicker than they even seemed.
“But we have it as them being a second and a half faster in the race per lap. Something like that.”
Mercedes has signalled that it will run upgrades on the car this weekend, but has highlighted that they won’t be game changers.
Although Hamilton has expressed confidence that Mercedes will be able to catch up to their peers across the season, the seven-time World Champion stated that it is a long way off securing a race win.
“If you’re fighting for a World Championship, which is what you prepare for at the beginning of the season, you realise that that’s not the case,” he said.
“And then you redirect the energy into building and strengthening the team, supporting everyone in the best way you can.
“You continue to prepare the same for the races, in the sense of your fitness and the mental approach.
“But, you know, we’re not fighting for, you know… We need the Red Bulls not to finish the race, the Ferraris not to finish the race, and maybe now the Astons not to finish the race, for us to be winning at the moment.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t catch them up. None of us at this team have ever kind of shied away from a challenge.
“We enjoy the challenge. We would much prefer to be at the front, but it isn’t the way it is.”