George Russell has stated his confidence that Mercedes could "overtake" Red Bull and Ferrari this year despite the Silver Arrow's difficult start to the campaign.
Mercedes may sit second in the constructors' standings after the first two races but the team is acutely aware it enjoys this position exclusively due to the reliability issues of Red Bull in the closing stages of the Bahrain season-opener.
Although reliability is a key part of F1, Mercedes has acknowledged it has the third-fastest package at the moment.
Despite being nine-tenths off the pace of pole-sitter Sergio Perez in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Russell remains confident that his team can overcome its struggles.
"We need to be in almost damage limitation mode at the moment, pick up the pieces, when there's an opportunity, don't throw away unnecessary points, even though it may just be for fifth or sixth or hopefully, a bit higher, and make sure we were within touching distance always," explained Russell.
"Then, hopefully, when the car does improve, we can come back fighting.
"It's a very long season, I think we've all got confidence that if we do things right, there's no reason why we can't close the gap and potentially overtake [the top two teams].
"But we equally appreciate and recognise that Ferrari and Red Bull will continuously improve as well.
"So, we could close up by six-tenths [but] there’s no reason why they can't extend by another six-tenths as well."
F1 a fast-changing sport
F1 is just two races into its new era with teams racing to an all-new set of technical regulations.
As is often the case with regulation changes, the early rate of development is often a steep curve with progression flattening the longer teams have to understand the various quirks.
"I think in Formula 1, things change incredibly quickly," added Russell.
"We are very fortunate that the calendar is not, as I said before, it's not very dense at the start of this season. Even if it's a couple of months, we are only six or seven races down and out of a 23 race season.
"Even if you come out the blocks incredibly fast after the summer break, even as Mercedes and Lewis did last year, you're still in with a shot."