Toto Wolff expressed satisfaction at Mercedes maximising their points-scoring opportunities in Bahrain for the 2022 Formula 1 season opener.
With the team seemingly on the back foot coming into the first weekend of the year, it became clear during the race itself that neither Lewis Hamilton nor George Russell had an answer to the pace shown by Ferrari and Red Bull.
But, with both Red Bulls encountering late technical issues that resulted in a double DNF, Hamilton and Russell rose to finish in third and fourth respectively – a tremendous recovery from their relatively poor grid positions.
"You can see how we manage the expectations," Wolff told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
"If we would have come third and fourth in last year's [race], it would have been very, very frustrating but, this year, I think we are punching above our weight class.
"With Red Bull's DNFs, I think third and fourth is a fantastic result."
Wolff points to tyre degradation as the biggest time loss
Wolff went on to say that he felt the main area of time loss for Mercedes, which had been around 35 seconds between Hamilton and the lead before the Safety Car intervention, was due to tyre degradation, rather than a weakness in the car design.
"I think, with a Soft tyre, on pure pace before the tyre degrades, we are almost there," he explained.
"Not where [Charles] Leclerc is but with the others, but then degradation is too big."
With the team having tried an unusual strategy by fitting the Hard tyre at the first stops, Wolff admitted this had been a strategic faux pas.
"Obviously, we tried to do something different by putting the Hard on but that was putting our hand in the toilet," he said.
"It was really a second slower, every single lap – lesson learned. Maybe that 35 seconds is a bit against us."
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Does Wolff have any concerns about the Mercedes power unit?
Looking ahead to next weekend, where F1 will race at the uber-fast Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia, Wolff believes some of Mercedes' time deficit is down to drag levels, rather than the performance of their power unit.
Mercedes-powered teams spent the majority of the race occupying the bottom six positions, with only the Mercedes works team making it into the top 10.
"I think we were probably over-wing," Wolff commented.
"We had too much drag and that is just because we are lacking parts at the moment. Hopefully, we can remedy that.
"That's maybe half - a little bit more - than the top speed disadvantage, but we need to really leave no stone unturned also on the power unit side.
"I think at the moment we are fifth and sixth – third on the road and we're trying to recover ground. But it's not going to come from one day to the other."
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