There will be no "quick fix" for Mercedes as the team attempt to get on top of their issues with the W13, according to ex-Formula 1 driver Anthony Davidson.
Mercedes racked up eight successive Constructors' titles from 2014 to 2021, but have fallen behind Ferrari and Red Bull under F1's all-new regulations, with their W13 so far proving to be uncompetitive.
Davidson, who acts as a simulator driver for Mercedes, pinpointed the outfit's "unbelievably detrimental" battle with porpoising as the ongoing major concern, which means they cannot run their car at the desired ride height.
Assessing the situation after the first two rounds of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Davidson told Sky Sports: "The car isn't as good as the Red Bull and the Ferrari – it's in no man's
"It hovers in the grey area where you can't challenge the front, but you're certainly faster than the midfield behind you.
"I do expect them to make gains, but it will take time – it's not a quick fix. We shouldn't expect a quick fix from Bahrain to Jeddah; there was hardly any time in between and it was basically exactly the same car that they took there."
Hamilton tipped to bounce back after shock Q1 exit
Mercedes were able to limit the damage at the season opener in Bahrain as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell crossed the line in third and fourth respectively after a late double retirement for rivals Red Bull.
In Saudi Arabia, the intra-team roles were reversed as Russell comfortably led Mercedes' charge throughout the weekend, with Hamilton suffering a shock Q1 exit, which he later put down to his car's set-up.
However, Davidson is adamant that the seven-time World Champion will soon be back to his best – whether the car is competitive or not.
"Underestimate him at your peril," added Davidson.
"He won't give up, he'll carry on pushing the limits, and I think he went quite extreme with the car in qualifying in Saudi Arabia, trying to get what he wanted from it. In the race, he found his rhythm."
Viewed by others:
Hamilton and Mercedes "will turn things around"
Davidson feels that on Hamilton's side, it will simply be a case of "figuring out" the car at upcoming races, while he expects Mercedes to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to return to winning ways.
"I do expect Lewis to figure out what this car needs in terms of driving style," he continued.
"Of course, he's super adaptable, he's been fast in any iteration of Formula 1 car that's come along, and there's no reason why he won't continue that in this current generation of Formula 1 cars.
"He just needs to find his rhythm. I feel like as time goes on, he and the team will work hard on it and turn this thing around."
Mercedes hold second in the Constructors' standings, 40 points adrift of Ferrari and a point clear of Red Bull.
F1 Podcast: Can anyone stop the Verstappen/Leclerc show?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken,
Mike Seymour, and Thomas Maher look back over the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, which was won in dramatic fashion by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.