Toto Wolff has revealed the full extent of Mercedes' woes this year after recovering to score a victory in the penultimate race of the past F1 campaign.
The Silver Arrows struggled significantly with porpoising and bouncing over the first half of the season, distracting it from adding performance as it tried various solutions to cure the phenomena.
Although the team was eventually able to overcome the issues and secure a victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the problem was never entirely eradicated, highlighted by its performance just a week later in the curtain-closing event in Abu Dhabi.
"We lost many months of development because we simply had to solve the porpoising problem before being able to add performance back onto the car," said team principal Wolff.
"Whatever we added in terms of downforce went nowhere. The drivers couldn't feel it, the car became even more unpredictable, and the bouncing got worse.
"So consider a six-month delay in putting performance on the car is something that is tremendously difficult to catch up against Ferrari and Red Bull.
"We've started a 100-metre sprint 10 metres behind everyone so we just have to run faster, and this organisation has all that's needed to run faster."
The budget cap and aerodynamic testing limits meant Mercedes had a fine tightrope to walk in terms of fixing the issues with the W13 while also focusing on the W14.
Asked if there is a fear Mercedes could have missed something while focusing on porpoising, Wolff added: "I have no such feeling in Formula 1 as fear because it's too big of an emotion.
"So not fear, but we need to be sharp."