Jolyon Palmer believes there were some signs that Mercedes were thinking of the "bigger picture" at the first pre-season test in Barcelona.
There was much focus on what Ferrari and McLaren achieved during the recent three-day test, with even the likes of George Russell suggesting that these two teams were ahead of the Silver Arrows.
However, Palmer notes that Mercedes were working on practice starts quite early on in the test, as well as being one of the first to do a race simulation run with Lewis Hamilton.
A different approach from Mercedes?
The former F1 driver thinks that this could highlight a different approach from the 2021 Constructors' Champions in comparison to other teams.
"They are the one team that have done practice starts fairly relentlessly from day two morning," Palmer said on Formula1.com.
"Every time I could hear a car going out of the pit lane, if it was doing burnouts and a practice start, that would be Mercedes.
"Because everyone else was just driving out and getting on with it. They're obviously thinking bigger picture early on.
"Lewis was the first driver at the end to do some sort of race simulation run. I think only Alex Albon really did anything similar in the Williams."
Palmer won't "rule out" Mercedes
It was not an entirely smooth few days for Mercedes in Barcelona, though, with Hamilton admitting that the team had some "obstacles" to overcome.
Despite this, Palmer thinks it is impossible to ever rule them out, particularly given that the outfit faced some struggles in pre-season testing ahead of 2021 and yet went on to challenge for both championships.
"They did run the C5 tyre to top the times at the end [of the 2022 pre-season test], the softest
tyre, for what that's worth," Palmer added.
"Maybe they had a load of fuel in it, it's
difficult to know. But they seem like they're trying to
prepare all bases at the moment.
"The car... I don't think the drivers seemed super happy with it, but, hey, I thought they'd have a tougher year last year than they did. They could have won it, and I'm not going to rule them out.
"I think they're going to be right there again."
Mercedes will be back in action again at the second pre-season test in Bahrain on 10-12 March.
F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the first 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 so far.