Mercedes admits it has its “work cut out” after data from Formula 1 pre-season testing suggests it is currently slower than chief rivals Red Bull.

The reigning world champion squad has endured a challenging test and racked up the fewest laps of any team after being hampered by a number of setbacks and reliability gremlins across the three days.

Despite making some progress on the final day of running, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes the team is currently lagging behind rivals Red Bull on long run pace, while it remains in the dark about its true one-lap performance heading into the first race.

“We've made a bit of progress with the balance on higher fuel and the car was more predictable but we can see from the data we've collected over the last few days that on race pace, we're not as quick as Red Bull,” Shovlin said.

“The lower fuel work was a more confusing picture, we didn't gain enough and we need to go and look at our approach as far too many cars were ahead of us on pace today.

“We've had issues in recent years with pace in winter testing and managed to make good progress before the first race but we may have our work cut out this time.

“We've not got long before we're back here for the race so we've planned a programme of work to try and understand some of our issues and will be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to find some more speed over the next ten days.”

Lewis Hamilton was fifth-fastest and a second off the pace of Max Verstappen’s benchmark time on a low-key afternoon, and the Briton says Mercedes is “still not where we want to be” after struggling with the rear-end of its updated W12 challenger.

“Today we made some improvements but it's still not where we want to be,” Hamilton said. “I can't pick out any one area, it just feels globally through the lap that we need to improve.

“I've never been a massive fan of testing, I just love racing, but it’s probably the only year I would have asked for more days though, because we've got lots of work to do.

"We've never felt in the past that we were quicker than everyone else after testing because you never know what people are doing with the fuel and set-ups.

"We always just focus on understanding our car the best way we can so if I'm honest, I feel the same this year. We won't know until we get to qualifying in two weeks' time exactly where we stand.”

Mercedes will run its 2021 challenger again during a filming day at the Bahrain International Circuit on Tuesday, providing the team with some valuable track time as it bids to iron out the issues it has faced this winter.

 

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