Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff maintains his belief that Ferrari still has a car capable of challenging for race wins despite the much anticipated threat from the Italian team this year failing to materialise in the opening four races.
Save for the Australian Grand Prix opener, which saw Sebastian Vettel lead a portion of the race, Ferrari has struggled to match Mercedes for pace, strategy and reliability, slipping 81 points adrift in the constructors' standings and so far only getting both of its cars home in China.
With Ferrari enduring a particularly tough weekend in Russia as Mercedes reeled off a relatively comfortable 1-2 finish, half a minute clear of Kimi Raikkonen, Wolff remains convinced the blip was specific to the unusual Sochi Autodrom circuit and is not indicative of Mercedes' overriding dominance.
“The track is very different, very smooth surface, and you can see that the pace of many teams was very different from before -- Williams was very strong, Red Bull not strong at all, Ferrari not as good as expected.
“It is a particular circuit where you have to get it right in terms of mechanical grip and aerodynamic downforce, engine power plays a role so I would say the blip in performance we've seen from Ferrari is Sochi-specific but then I didn't see their data so I don't know.”
Indeed, Wolff insists Mercedes is having to push to find more performance from its car to keep the likes of Ferrari adrift, which on occasion is making the car vulnerable to its limits.
“The more the regulations stay stable the more difficult it is to find performance. Andy Cowell and his team, he is Mr Performance and he is pushing the guys to extract every millisecond out of that engine.
“Because of the stable regulations it becomes more difficult and sometimes you need to push the boundaries to find the limits and maybe this is where we are at the moment, but I have no doubt this is a bunch of great engineers and great people and that we are going to solve.
“Fundamentally we have finished with a one-two so despite all the grey hairs in the race we still got a really brilliant result.”