Mercedes engineering director Andrew Shovlin has admitted that the gap between their drivers and Red Bull's Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix came as a big disappointment.
Verstappen qualified 0.4 seconds ahead of second placed Lewis Hamilton, whilst Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was a further 0.2 seconds behind. The size of the deficit means that Shovlin and the Mercedes team know they have work to do in catching up.
"It's disappointing at the first race to be looking at a 0.4s gap to pole but at least we know the performance we need to find going forward," Shovlin said in a statement from Mercedes.
"It's also no secret that we've been struggling with the car around this circuit; it's nowhere near as easy to work with as the W11 but everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has been working hard since the test and we've learnt a lot about the W12 and found a more predicable balance, even if we're lacking overall pace."
Despite the issues that the team are facing, Shovlin is hopeful that they can create opportunities during the race.
"We'd wanted to get both cars onto the medium tyre to start the race which we managed to quite safely," the engineer explained. "Valtteri was a bit compromised in the final session by having used an extra soft in the first session but overall, it was good effort by the team and drivers, and should put us in a strong position.
"It's hard to read where we are on race pace from the Friday long runs as we didn't land the car in the right window but we're fairly confident we've improved the rear grip so it will be less of a handful in the race. We might not be on pole but we have two cars at the front and an extra set of the hard tyres, so hopefully we can create some opportunities from that."