Ross Brawn believes that the current battle for the title in F1 is missing a third team to take the fight to Ferrari and Red Bull.
Charles Leclerc leads the way after four races of the 2022 season, and currently holds a 27-point lead over Max Verstappen, who has recorded two DNFs due to twice being hit by reliability problems.
The two drivers share two race wins apiece, and now find themselves embroiled in what could become another season-long tussle for superiority.
But the battle at the front is missing a third competitive team, according to F1's Managing Director Brawn, who is hopeful that his former team Mercedes can close the gap to Ferrari and Red Bull.
Brawn: I was hoping Mercedes would be quicker
The difference in performance between Mercedes and their rivals was clear to see once again at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton finishing the race an entire lap behind race winner Verstappen.
The main cause of the Silver Arrows' problems in 2022 has been porpoising, and as such the team have been unable to run their car as low to ground as they planned to, thus sacrificing performance.
When asked how excited he is by the battle between Verstappen and Leclerc, Brawn told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com: "Very, but I must be honest, I was hopeful Mercedes would have been more competitive by now.
"They had a tough start and they're working incredibly hard, and I thought [at Imola] we might see some progress, but they still seem to be struggling.
"But another, third team in the mix would be fantastic."
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Brawn excited to see how Verstappen vs Leclerc 'evolves'
So far, the battle between Leclerc and Verstappen has been incident-free, with the two drivers yet to make contact on track despite trading places multiple times.
Their fight has offered a stark contrast to last season's title race, during which Verstappen and Hamilton collided on more than one occasion over the course of the campaign.
"There's a different dynamic between Charles and Max," said Brawn. "We're seeing that on the track.
"It's going to be interesting to see how that evolves as we get nearer to the end of the season."
F1 Podcast: Are Red Bull now favourites and has Hamilton hit a new low?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look back over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Red Bull triumphed, Ferrari hit trouble and Mercedes struggled.