Former F1 world champion Damon Hill believes Ferrari is "licking its wounds" whilst turning focus to next year as Mercedes closes in on second in the constructors' standings.
The Scuderia took two of the opening three races through wins for Charles Leclerc whilst Red Bull faltered with reliability issues, lending hope that Ferrari could return to the top of F1 for the first time since 2008.
But reliability troubles of its own, matched with driver mistakes and poor strategic decision making allowed Red Bull and Max Verstappen to run away with both titles.
With development halted as eyes turn towards 2023, Mercedes has closed into the top two teams and seemingly leapfrogged Ferrari in the United States and Mexico City.
The Italian outfit particularly struggled in Mexico, with Leclerc finishing a minute behind Verstappen.
Ferrari ran its engines below full power in the high-altitude setting at Mexico, with Hill telling the F1 Nation podcast: "You have got the cost cap, haven't you, so you can't go blowing up engines, it is all extra cost.
"They have to be really careful even now.
"But it sounds to me like they are running to the end, trying to conserve, lick their wounds and move onto next year so the drivers are not getting upgrades, they are probably going to be conserving their power units as well because it will all add up in terms of cost, I would imagine.
"If they blow up an engine, there will still be cost."
Hill points to potential Mercedes dilemma
Mercedes sits 40 points behind Ferrari in the constructors' championship with two races to go, as well as a sprint event in Brazil this weekend.
But jumping into second would reduce the aerodynamic testing allowance for the Silver Arrows compared to finishing third, prompting a potential strategic dilemma.
"If you do better, you are penalised for the next year, so the better you do, the less chance you have of improving," explained Hill.
"The guys at the back have a bigger window of improvement, if they can afford it.
"So [Mercedes] are sitting there going "hang on a minute, we might get a bit more wind tunnel time if we don't come second in the constructors' championship.
"They will actually have to be making those calculations because maybe you don't want to come second."