Toto Wolff has likened Mercedes’ Formula 1 pre-season testing struggles to finding a hair in the soup.

Mercedes endured a troubled three-days of pre-season testing in Bahrain after being setback by a number of reliability gremlins, while drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both reported handling issues with the rear-end of the team’s new W12 challenger.

Hamilton brought out the red flags with a spin on Day 2 and followed that up with a second pirouette towards the end of the third and final day, while Bottas - whose opening day was hampered by a gearbox problem - described Mercedes’ 2021 car as “snappy and unforgiving”.

“I always worry, sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong reasons, but pre-season testing is always exciting because you always find the hair in the soup,” Wolff told F1TV.

“[There are] things that are not good and we had quite some struggle in the first few days.”

Mercedes was the only team that opted against carrying out a shakedown of its latest F1 car ahead of pre-season testing.

Despite suggestions that such an outing could have helped the German manufacturer identify the issues it faced much earlier, Wolff defended the decision not to run.

“It’s not a matter of complacency,” Wolff explained. “There’s a reason why there are not many teams winning world championships or doing it with consecutive championships. It’s an organisation that needs to stay  motivated and energised at all times, and that’s not trivial.

“The shakedown, if it’s done in the right conditions, allows you to understand a little bit more, but our failures in the first days were not down to doing or not doing a shakedown.”

Mercedes is holding the first of its two permitted filming days in Bahrain today, providing the team with a final 100km of running to get to grips with its W12 before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.

“On the job list is that we will crunch the data,” Wolff explained.

“Try to understand where we performed well, and where not, where we had good correlation to our simulations and the tunnel and where not, and just generally, it’s like sleeping overnight on an idea. The next day you wake up more intelligent.”