Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes has "done a better job" than Red Bull in designing its car for the new era of F1 after scoring a podium in his unfancied W13.
Hamilton and team-mate George Russell spent the majority of the 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix lapping in fifth and sixth behind the Red Bull and Ferrari driver pairings.
But the picture changed after a late safety car period, with both Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez retiring in the closing stages to gift Hamilton the final podium position.
Asked the importance of scoring such a result on a weekend when Mercedes did not have the quickest car, Hamilton explained: "Every point can make a difference, I've lost world titles with one point.
"Whilst we're not currently necessarily, performance-wise, fighting with these guys, it's not damage limitation but it's a really great result.
"Of course, we're fortunate but ultimately we've done a better job. We have better reliability so I don't necessarily think that's luck. That's the hard work of everyone.
"But it is such a long season, it's going to be such a hard battle but we love a challenge."
Mercedes struggled across winter testing and across the weekend in Bahrain as the Silver Arrows were around one-second per lap slower than both Red Bull and Ferrari.
"I really do enjoy a challenge and it is a privilege for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal," added Hamilton.
"There is no greater feeling than when you all come together and you get a result like this."