After three days of running in Bahrain, Mercedes appear to be the third-best team at best heading into this weekend’s season-opening race.

There’s even some suggestions that they could be behind Aston Martin, who run Mercedes engines.

Where do the big three stand ahead of the F1 season opener? | Bahrain F1 2023

However, Slater has been told by a Mercedes senior figure that their form isn’t potentially as bad as it has been made out to be.

“What about Mercedes, a lot of doom and gloom in terms of the reporting of how they got on this week,” Slater said on Sky Sports F1’s season preview.

“I was speaking to a senior figure from the team today who said that it was overly gloomy, the assessment of where they’re at.

“[The senior figure was] saying: ‘Don’t forget, this is testing. We are developing a car not specifically for Bahrain, but to be the best car over the year. We have more parts that come. We expected based on Red Bull’s performance last year to have to start the season behind them, that is possibly’ – and they use the term possibly – ‘where we will start.’

“And they also said: ‘But we do think we’re in a fight a good scrap with Aston Martin and with Ferrari for second place.’ That would put a much more positive spin on things if that is the case.

Mercedes head into F1 2023 on the back of their worst campaign in over a decade.

George Russell won the team’s only race of 2022, while Hamilton was winless for the first time in his F1 career, slumping to sixth in the championship standings.