Toto Wolff has played down Mercedes' expectations ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, claiming that it will take time for the squad to find the performance gains they are searching for.
His comments come ahead of the first European race of the 2022 F1 season, an event at which multiple teams are expected to bring performance upgrades.
However, with only one hour of practice allowed at Imola before Friday's qualifying session - ahead of Saturday's Sprint race - it remains unclear whether any outfit in the paddock will make major changes to their cars.
For now, Mercedes expect to remain behind Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of speed, despite an Easter period packed full of "lots of hard work".
"We know we haven't got the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull right now. But we're working hard to reduce their advantage, and it's been brilliant to see everyone across the factories pulling together to achieve this," said Wolff.
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Wolff: Mercedes need to be realistic
Wolff believes that Mercedes are making progress, but adds that the Brackley-based squad must be "realistic" when it comes to the long fight ahead of them.
Lewis Hamilton raced with sensors aboard his W13 car in Melbourne as they looked to discover all they could about their problems.
That meant added weight but further learning for the team, which finished P3 and P4 - with George Russell and Hamilton respectively - to remain second in the World Championship standings.
"There's been a lot of hard work over the Easter weekend in the factory to bring improvements to the car and get it ready to head to the next race, and that shows the team's dedication to turning the situation around," explained Wolff.
"Of course, we must be realistic. It will take time to make the gains we want, but we're learning as much as we can from each race and finding avenues to push us forward."
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