Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes are not the team to beat at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix following their tricky pre-season test. The world champions uncharacteristically struggled with their new 2021 car in testing, completing the least number of laps across the three days of running with Hamilton spinning the car on two occasions.
Mercedes are aiming for an unprecedented eighth consecutive constructors' championship whilst Hamilton is looking to break Michael Schumacher's record of seven world drivers' titles.
"More often we've had a better feeling with our car [in the past]," Hamilton told RacingNews365.com and other members of the media. "It's massively exciting I think for us as a team. We are currently not the fastest. How are we going to unite, how are we going to work together in order to get to where we want to be. I'm so excited to have that challenge.
"But again, seeing some of the other teams close I think it's going to be great for the fans. But I love that collaboration with the men and women in my team and trying to get to our common goal."
Hamilton also said this season will "absolutely" be closer than last year but remains optimistic about Mercedes' chances despite their pre-season testing struggles.
"I think we are in the best shape we can possibly be, considering that we only had three days of testing," Hamilton added. "There's been a huge amount of analysis, the engineers and the guys back at the factory have a huge amount of data.
"But I think we come here, positive. I think there's multiple teams that look really strong."