Damon Hill believes that Mercedes are being put under enough pressure by Red Bull's speed in the early part of this season that they are now 'off balance'.
2021 has been the first year since 2018 that the team have been put under any pressure for the championship by a rival team. Red Bull are, arguably, the quicker team at the moment, and Hill is questioning whether the usually slick and harmonious Mercedes will remain so under such pressure.
"I think the thing that's interesting me and I think that will become very interesting as a story as we go through this year, is what is going to happen to this harmonious Mercedes team as we get further down the line," Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast.
"Because we know that Christian... there's no love loss with any of his competitors with Christian Horner. He's quite happy to rib them when it goes wrong. And there was a few tetchy moments even before this weekend.
"But I think the Mercedes looked a little bit off balance this weekend and a little bit concerned in a way that I've never seen them as a team before. And if you say that Lewis, he looked kind of content with his job, but he didn't seem so concerned, if you like, that his team seemed to be scratching the head or admitting errors on the radio during the race and that they're a bit baffled as to as to how they've got overtaken."
Hill went on to explain that he viewed the chassis change between Bottas and Hamilton in France as being indicative of just how worried Mercedes are behind the scenes.
"When form changes, for example, when Lewis is having a bad day, that doesn't fit the pattern. 'Lewis is quicker than Valtteri Bottas but Valtteri Bottas is going quicker than Lewis so there must be something wrong.'
"In the mind of the driver, when you've tried everything, they did actually talk in Baku about having gone through umpteen setup changes, so they're really hunting around to try and find pace, the pace they need is obviously to race against Red Bull.
"So Lewis is trying to find the advantage, again, that he had in his car, and it's not there. And in the fact of the matter is, it's Red Bull that are now exposing the vulnerability of the Mercedes package.
"If you start going hunting for something that's not there, you can get lost. And I think that's one of the things that might account for something like a chassis change, because you're trying to find the mysterious thing that never existed in the first place."