Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has conceded discovering the W13's issues this past F1 year was akin to 'peeling an onion'.
The Silver Arrows ended the season with a solitary victory to bring to an end its domination over the constructors' championship since 2014, instead finishing third behind runaway champions Red Bull and second-placed Ferrari.
The early stages of the campaign saw Mercedes struggle with porpoising as F1 switched to ground-effect aerodynamics, whilst drag efficiency and weight issues slowed further progress through the campaign.
Optimism was sparked by a late-season upgrade package that helped secure George Russell's victory at the penultimate round in Brazil, firing hope of a competitive campaign next year.
“We much better understand what the problems were," said Wolff.
"We’ve been peeling off onion layer after onion layer, discovering more issues and more problems but I think we have come to a point that we understand pretty well why the car was not performing.
“The correlation at least is there for some tracks.
“It is all in the fine detail of how can we make the car work aerodynamically, how can we improve the ride and make it more stable as a basis."
Joking that any issues with the W14 would fall at the door of trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, who filled in for the Austrian during his absence at the São Paulo Grand Prix, Wolff added: “If it goes bad, it’s Shov!
“It’s multiple factors that contribute to a car that is just not good enough and I think if we are able to sort that out over the winter, at least we can provide a stable platform for the drivers and we can develop it from there."