Toto Wolff has conceded the difficult 2022 season was more about "live testing" for Mercedes rather than "really racing".
The Silver Arrows endured a tough campaign that saw George Russell score the team's only grand prix victory of the year in the penultimate race in Brazil.
Mercedes' struggles stemmed from unforeseen problems with porpoising following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations.
The violent bouncing effect limited how low the team could run its W13 which, in turn, had a dramatic effect on performances in the early races.
Speaking to GPFans in an end-of-year interview, Wolff said: "I would say the car we gave the two drivers was really a handful.
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"[It was] very unpredictable, difficult to drive, and not competitive to race at the front.
"Therefore, it was more live testing than really racing."
The season marked an unfortunate first for Lewis Hamilton as the seven-time champion failed to score a race win for the first time in his F1 career.
Despite this, Wolff praised Hamilton's ability in tough circumstances, adding: "Once we got to a sensible point, he got back to his A-game.
"Fundamentally, he is there to win races and fight for wins, yet more than half of the season was a development game."
Additional reporting by Sam Hall