Max Verstappen believes there is still more performance to come from rivals Mercedes, despite a troubled start to their 2023 campaign with the W14.
Although the car does not suffer from the same chronic problems as its predecessor, there are still some underlying issues that the team has to sort before the first race.
However, Verstappen believes Mercedes have made more gains than Honda in their power unit performance, despite manufacturers only being limited to making improvements for reliability purposes.
"At Mercedes, I think they found something again. Of course everybody [classifies upgrades] under 'reliability', but there's just more performance coming out of it, and we're going to see," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I definitely think they have made a step, maybe even a little more than us in terms of power. But in the end, most of it has to come from the car itself."
He continued: "Mercedes has also brought a different rear wing, so that will also be more efficient for them."
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Verstappen: When I look at Fernando, he's pretty optimistic
Verstappen also thinks Aston Martin could be a team to watch, as it draws a lot of attention from the paddock as a potential threat to the top three.
After showing impressive race pace during pre-season testing, Fernando Alonso has been "optimistic" when speaking to fellow drivers according to the Dutchman.
"I think Aston Martin really did build a good car," he observed. "I always find it very difficult to judge exactly where they stand.
"But when I look at Fernando's face when I talk to him, he's pretty optimistic.
"That is of course nice to see, because in the end you do want to have more teams closer together."
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth analyse where each of the F1 teams stands after pre-season testing.