At this stage, Mercedes knows it has to work around its current philosophy rather than attempting to deliver a high-rake design to be on par with Red Bull.
Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: "Did this set of regulations drag back low-rake cars more than high-rake cars? It may well be the case.
"I know they won the last race [of last season] but generally we were ahead at the end of the year and that’s not the case now.
"Either we took a bigger hit in the rules or they’ve had a better rate of development since they applied the regulation changes.
"But it is what it as and we’ve got a car that could win a championship if we make some clever decisions and do some good work with it and operate well over the year, but whether or not it’s high or low rake we can’t do anything about that now.
"What we certainly can’t do is say we’re going to lift the rear of our car 30mm and work with that because that would write off the season as there is so much work to do that."
Suggested to Shovlin it was the closest a rival had been since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014, he replied: "It’s definitely close."
"We’ve had some tough years in the past few seasons. This is not alien to us and this is what we’ve got to work with.
"We’re two teams that seem pretty much neck and neck at the moment so it’s going to be a tough year and there’s no doubt Red Bull operate really well.
"They’re a sharp, well-focused team that don’t make many mistakes. Max [Verstappen] is clearly a very mature and smart racer now, he’s difficult, and they develop well. They’ve shown over every season that they have the capacity to put a lot of performance on the car.
"So regardless of the start point, this is not going to be an easy championship. It’s going to be tight and it’s one we’re not going to give up on. They’re going to tell you the same."
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