While Mercedes currently sit atop the F1 standings after claiming victory in Bahrain, Red Bull's Helmut Marko believes the German team are experiencing problems his team faced last season when they weren't completely comfortable with their new car.
The Milton Keynes outfit looked like the team to beat in Bahrain, with Max Verstappen topping the timesheets throughout the weekend. However it didn't translate into victory, with Lewis Hamilton eventually coming out on top after an epic battle with the Dutchman.
Despite the setback Marko told RTL he is more than pleased with Red Bull's start to the season, especially since Mercedes have some work to do in order to perfect the balance of the W12.
“It seems that the roles have been reversed compared to 2020," Marko stated. "In the spring we had the car that was difficult to drive. A car that was very susceptible to the wind and reacted very unpredictably on some tracks.
"From the outside it seems that the same is true for Mercedes now. Red Bull, on the other hand, have perfected the chassis and made an optimal start to the new season."
Another positive for Red Bull has been the performance of their Honda engine, which looks to have matched or even surpassed the Mercedes power unit.
"In terms of engine, Honda has been catching up," Marko added. "We are about the same level as Mercedes, but we still have to wait a few more races before we can make an exact comparison. In any case, Mercedes is no longer superior in the area where the team dominated in recent years: the hybrid part of the engine.
"That was precisely the area that made the dominance of Mercedes possible in this era."
Although Red Bull were second best in Bahrain, Marko is looking forward to a season-long fight with Mercedes and Hamilton.
"We unfortunately lost in Bahrain, despite having the faster car," Marko added. "There are several reasons for that, but what is clear is that everything has to go right if you want to beat Mercedes. We assume that this season we will see a fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen."