Lewis Hamilton has been left in no doubt that this year's new aerodynamic rules have been designed to hurt Mercedes' dominance of Formula 1.
Following seven consecutive constructors' and drivers' championships for Mercedes, the team faces the sternest test of its superiority this year as it trails Red Bull.
The change in the pecking order follows the downforce cuts applied to this year's cars for safety reasons, although this has affected low-rake machinery more - like Mercedes - compared to high-rake designs, such as Red Bull.
Hamilton feels Mercedes has been targeted, though. He said: "It’s no secret that’s what the changes have… of course, they’ve been done to peg us back.
"We had the changes, of course, to our engine to do the same thing, but that’s okay, we love a challenge.
"We don’t look down on these things, we just work hard to do the best we can and that’s what we will do."
Hamilton goes into today's Bahrain Grand Prix second on the grid after being out-qualified by Red Bull's Max Verstappen by almost four-tenths of a second.
While Mercedes has made improvements since testing to close the gap, Verstappen does not believe the difference between the teams is simply down to rake.
The Dutch driver also feels the progress Honda has made with its power unit has been significant.
"It [low rake] is our philosophy now for a long time, of course," said Verstappen. "I don’t think we can point it out on that.
"There have been a few factors, like we knew our weaknesses from last year and that’s not only the rake.
"So also from the engine side Honda has worked really hard to improve their engine, and in general they’ve done a great job."
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