Mercedes are still yet to extract all of the available performance from their 2021 car despite them making a big step forward after pre-season testing, Andrew Shovlin, the team’s trackside engineering director, has said.
Red Bull’s 2021 challenger, the RB16B, was more competitive than the Mercedes W12 during the season-opener in Bahrain last month, though Sir Lewis Hamilton still won the grand prix ahead of Max Verstappen.
As Shovlin emphasised, the Bahrain International Circuit has different characteristics and challenges to the tracks that will host the next two grand prix.
“Bahrain is very hard on the rear tyres and it was really windy,” Shovlin said.
“We had 30-40kph winds, which is the upper end of what you see in a normal race season.
“We’re certainly hoping it was not one of our finest tracks because we really had quite a tough time. We got the car quite decent at the end but it was awfully hard work.
“If you look at Red Bull through the test and through free practice, their car just worked really well. Hopefully, we’ll find circuits that do suit us more.
“But looking to Imola, looking to Portimão, I don’t think we’re good enough in the high speed and there’s plenty of that at both, and that’s one area they have an advantage on us,” he added.
Continuing, Shovlin said that despite Mercedes taking a big step forward between pre-season testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix, they know there is still yet more performance for them to extract from their 2021 car.
“We still don’t think we’ve got the best car but we don’t think we’ve got everything out the package yet,” Shovlin said.
“When you develop a car there are lots of areas you exploit the performance and some we don’t think have delivered everything they should.
“So we’re going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car in the next couple of races. But I think it’s going to be tough.
“With those circuits, there are elements that I think will move us in the right direction. We struggled with the rear end in Bahrain.
“Those circuits are a bit easier in that regard, but as I’ve said the high speed is something we are not naïve in thinking that’s going to be a strength of ours at those tracks,” he added.