Otmar Szafnauer, principal of the Aston Martin Racing F1 team, thinks the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren have all gained ground on Mercedes this year.
The new technical regulations implemented for the 2021 season, which specifically targeted chages to the rear diffuser and the floor, seems to have hampered the performance of the Mercedes' W12 with their rivals Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari all closing the gap to the seven-time constructor's champions.
"I think a lot of the teams are a lot closer to Mercedes this year than they were last year, including Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari," Szafnauer told F1.com.
"I mean if you look back to see where Ferrari were three months ago and where they are now to Mercedes – just have a look at the lap times and that will give you a picture."
The other big loser in the 2021 season seems to be Aston Martin, who have a very similar low-rake design philosophy to Mercedes. Szafnauer hopes that his team can learn from the German outfit.
"I think for sure we have to look and see what type of lap times they are able to do," Szafnauer continued.
"We have the same powertrain, the same gearbox, same rear suspension so if they are able to do some of those lap times, we should be able to get close – so that gives us some hope."
Szafnauer also offered some insight into whether his team will forego the 2021 season with the aim of using resoruces to capitalize on the technical overhaul for 2022.
"The trade-off has to be, how much more can we gain this year at what expense for next year and that is really, really hard to predict. So at this time we’re going to keep going in parallel!" Szafnauer concluded.