Jolyon Palmer reckons that Mercedes are set for a tricky start to the 2022 Formula 1 campaign, after enduring a "tough" pre-season test in Bahrain.
Mercedes ended the Bahrain test a second off the pace set by Red Bull's Max Verstappen on the Soft C5 tyres, as both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggled with excessive porpoising and understeer during all three days.
"Between Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari, it's Mercedes that are on the back foot at this stage," Palmer said in a testing analysis video published by the official Formula 1 YouTube account.
"They came out with a really innovative design, the 'zeropods', basically no sidepods on the car, which caught everyone's attention on day one.
"But they're struggling a little bit more to get the car into a proper working window. The car is porpoising a huge amount. George Russell was in it as testing finished and probably is struggling with a headache he was bouncing so much.
"That's a real problem for the Mercedes team to balance putting the downforce on the car and not putting it into the ground as they're going down the straights."
Palmer confident Mercedes can recover strongly
But Palmer said he's confident that the team can bounce back quickly from their issues.
"I think Mercedes, [as] last year's Constructors Champions, they've won eight years in a row, they can win it again," he said.
"But they've probably been the team of the top three that have had the toughest test.
"I don't doubt they will bounce back, they always seem to. I'm sure they're probably sandbagging a little bit as well, but I think they may be a bit upstaged so far, by Ferrari and by Red Bull."
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Palmer earmarks Ferrari for 2022 successes
Palmer went on to say that he believes Ferrari could prove to be one of the most successful packages of the 2022 season, following their positive tests in Barcelona and Bahrain.
"Ferrari – what a test they've had. Absolutely brilliant, reliably ran, looks quick, everyone's smiling. They're ticking all the boxes," he commented.
a team that has been in the midfield, or even below the midfield, for
the last couple of years, they are back towards the front, no doubt
"Can they win races? I think they can. Can they win the championship? That's going to be a tough ask. I think they're right there.
"They've got two good drivers that will push each other and they're really harmonious as well. So I think if you're a Ferrari fan, there's cause for some cautious, or even more than cautious optimism for this year!"
F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the second pre-season test
At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona,
Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track
developments in Bahrain.