Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen says he finds Mercedes' current struggles hard to believe, after the Brackley-based squad endured an underwhelming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Having scooped every Constructors' Championship title from 2014 to 2021, Mercedes appear to have been caught out by F1's new aero regulations for 2022.
The W13 noticeably struggles with porpoising, and appears considerably off the pace of the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris.
While George Russell took advantage of others' misfortune to make up several places on the opening lap and finish the Imola race in fourth, teammate Lewis Hamilton had a torrid time, crossing the line 13th.
Hakkinen reflects on "complex problems" at Mercedes
The seven-time World Champion also suffered the indignity of being lapped by race winner and erstwhile title rival Max Verstappen, and Hakkinen noted that the Silver Arrows have serious issues to solve before they can be competitive again.
"Mercedes clearly have quite complex problems with their car," Hakkinen told Unibet.
"It seems amazing to say it, but the World Championships are already looking out of reach.
"For the first time in 10 years, neither Mercedes made it through to Q3 qualifying [at Imola], which is hard to believe.
"Clearly, the car design is not working in several areas."
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Mercedes "running out of time" to fix problems
Mercedes are currently third in the Constructors' standings with 77 points, 47 behind leaders Ferrari.
With fourth-placed McLaren rapidly improving after a slow start, Hakkinen believes time is against Mercedes if they are to make an impression in this year's title race.
"To see Lewis Hamilton being lapped by Max Verstappen after 41 laps shows what a difficult time he and the team are having," said Hakkinen, who won World Championships in 1998 and 1999 in a McLaren powered by Mercedes engines.
"They understand the key problems, but time is running out to find solutions.
"This is the problem in F1 – the World Championship does not wait for you, the races keep coming and there is so little time to sort major problems out."
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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.