Toto Wolff laments that the outlook for his Mercedes team looks fairly dire at the moment, but he is determined to put in the hours and climb back to the top of the tree as soon as possible.
Mercedes have struggled enormously with the new technical regulations, and have looked especially caught out by the new ground effect aerodynamics.
It is estimated by the Italian edition of Motorsport.com that the floor accounts for 60 percent of the downforce this season, which explains why the wing alterations made by the team in Saudi Arabia did not seem to help their cause in any way.
Sir Lewis Hamilton, having claimed a surprise podium in Bahrain, was eliminated in the first phase of qualifying in Jeddah, ending the session eight tenths of a second behind team-mate George Russell after changing the set-up and suffering from an “undrivable” car.
He did recover to 10th as his 24-year-old compatriot ended the race fifth, but the fact that Russell was over half a minute behind race winner Max Verstappen makes for grim viewing as far as team principal Wolff is concerned.
“The overall picture is sobering, and it’s clear that we need to continue working hard if we wish to deliver a stronger performance in Melbourne,” he said, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.
Indeed, Mercedes are planning wing updates for the Australian Grand Prix, but their main weakness – the floor – will not receive an upgrade until the race in Imola two weeks later.
Trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin has emphasised the need for the Silver Arrows to remain focused on the task at hand.
“We need to go back and regroup ahead of Melbourne,” he said after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“The circuit [in Saudi Arabia] has been more difficult for us than Bahrain, and we’re under no illusions where we stand at the moment, but we need to remain focused and effective.”
Having won the last eight Constructors’ Championships, the lack of performance has been a shock to all involved with the pinnacle of motorsport, but the Briton affirms that they achieved that record-breaking success by standing resolute in the face of adversity, and they will do so again.
“We have an enormous challenge ahead of us,” he added.
“But over the last eight years the team has been able to get on top of every performance issue that we have faced. We’ve been able to do that because we have so many talented and dedicated people in the team, both in Brackley and Brixworth.
“We certainly have our work cut out over the next weeks and months, but we are more determined than ever to get ourselves back fighting at the front.”
Mercedes currently sit second in the Constructors’ Standings after Red Bull’s calamitous late double retirement in Bahrain in round one.