Mercedes has expressed concern at the lack of its high-speed performance ahead of the forthcoming returns to the Imola and Portimão circuits.
Despite going into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix behind on performance to Red Bull, the reigning champions still found a way to win via clever tyre strategy and Lewis Hamilton's display, notably over the closing laps in battle with Max Verstappen.
The Emilia Romagna and Portuguese GPs both represent a very different challenge to the Bahrain International Circuit, with the team's trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin already preparing for an uphill struggle when it comes to high speed.
Assessing the differences across the circuits, Shovlin said: "Bahrain is very hard on the rear tyres and it was really windy. We had 30-40kph winds, which is the upper end of what you see in a normal race season.
"We’re certainly hoping it was not one of our finest tracks because we really had quite a tough time. We got the car quite decent at the end but it was awfully hard work.
"If you look at Red Bull through the test and through free practice, their car just worked really well. Hopefully, we’ll find circuits that do suit us more.
"But looking to Imola, looking to Portimão, I don’t think we’re good enough in the high speed and there’s plenty of that at both, and that’s one area they have an advantage on us."
From testing through to the race in Bahrain, it was clear Mercedes had made strides in performance as it proved it has the second-best car to Red Bull.
The upside for Shovlin is that the team has yet to fully extract the potential from the W12.
"What’s our mindset?" questioned Shovlin. "We still don’t think we’ve got the best car but we don’t think we’ve got everything out the package yet.
"When you develop a car there are lots of areas you exploit the performance and some we don’t think have delivered everything they should.
'"So we’re going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car in the next couple of races. But I think it’s going to be tough.
"With those circuits, there are elements that I think will move us in the right direction.
"We struggled with the rear end in Bahrain. Those circuits are a bit easier in that regard, but as I’ve said the high speed is something we are not naïve in thinking that’s going to be a strength of ours at those tracks."
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