Toto Wolff has demanded a reaction from Mercedes as it appears to face the biggest test of its dominance of Formula 1.
Wolff was left under no illusion that after what he has described as a "tricky" three days of testing in Bahrain earlier this month, this year's car is not on a par with many of its rivals as it was unstable at the rear and was short on pace.
For the first time since the arrival of the current turbo-hybrid era, Mercedes go into the season-opening race this weekend in Bahrain as the underdog as Red Bull appears to be the team to beat.
"It feels like we have spent quite some time in Bahrain recently, and with mixed fortunes," said Wolff.
"Overall, it was a tricky three days of testing for us. The W12 wasn't as stable, predictable or planted as some of our rivals.
"Red Bull looked strong on both the long and short runs, but as always with testing, it's difficult to be certain of true performance. The only thing we know for sure is that we must prove our ability to react.
"From the moment the third day of testing finished, we got our heads down and started to figure out how we can return to Bahrain in stronger form in just a few days' time."
Mercedes has appeared to struggle to adapt to the new rules in which aerodynamic changes have been made in order to cut downforce for safety reasons.
The team will also have been one of the hardest hit following the imposition of the budget cap from this year, but Wolff is looking for solutions rather than excuses.
"While these cars share some parts from their predecessors, there have also been significant rule changes to interpret and overcome," added Wolff.
"We have also had to change the way we work in response to the cost cap. But as we have found before, it's from the difficult moments that we learn the most.
"This team's biggest strengths are our people and our values, and after a tough test, I know that we can fight back stronger."
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