Toto Wolff has sent a warning to Red Bull and Ferrari that Mercedes has a "race car more than a qualifying car" ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes put a difficult start to the season behind it with upgrades helping George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to fourth and sixth on the grid at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, ensuring it is firmly in the mix with Ferrari and Red Bull.
The key fix found by the Brackley-based outfit has been ironing out the aggressive porpoising that now allows more detailed set-up work to be achieved, with Wolff expecting an improvement in performance in the grand prix itself.
"My belief is we have a race car more than a qualifying car," said Wolff. "But we are going to see tomorrow how it went for the other ones [Red Bull and Ferrari].
"Red Bull, they always have the tendency of being very strong in the race, less so the Ferraris. Obviously, that is all glass-ball reading."
Mercedes miles away from pole
Despite the improvements, Ferrai's Charles Leclerc was still six-tenths of a second faster in Q3 than Russell who was also three tenths slower than second-on-the-grid Max Verstappen who failed to complete a final lap due to a DRS issue.
"I think we have done a solid step," said Wolff. "You try to keep your expectations to a realistic point and where we slotted in today is somehow the best we could have expected.
"I don't know how much gap, six-tenths to Leclerc? This is miles away in terms of qualifying pace so we will see."