Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has singled out Ferrari for praise on the engine front, with the Scuderia finding plenty of power over the course of the winter.
While Mercedes have been the standard-setters throughout the hybrid era, stretching back to 2014, the 2022 technical rules reset appears to have shifted the state of play.
A change to engine designs was needed for the new season, despite the reasonably static regulations on that front, due to the introduction of a new, more sustainable E10 fuel.
That change seems to have suited Ferrari, with their power unit now believed to be setting the standard on the grid.
Ferrari, as well as engine customers Haas and Alfa Romeo, are showing much-improved performance on track, with the works team and Charles Leclerc enjoying comfortable early leads in both championships.
Wolff full of praise for Ferrari's engine progress
The opposite could be said for Mercedes, following their early-season troubles.
Along with the team encountering porpoising issues and struggling to unlock speed from their W13, there are question marks over just how good the new Mercedes power unit is.
As well as Mercedes' own fall from the front, customers Aston Martin, Williams and McLaren struggled for any semblance of speed in the opening two rounds, although there were some signs of recovery in Australia.
"I think we've seen a massive jump from Ferrari from last year to this one," Wolff told Sky Sports F1, over the course of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.
Wolff pointed out that the jump is so big, it's beyond anything Mercedes' own engine department in Brixworth ever managed during their run of titles.
"[Ferrari went] from probably 10kw down to 10kw up, and that is something we have never achieved in the past," he said.
"But, if that happened, all credit to them."
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Could the fuel change over winter have caused the hit in performance?
Asked whether the change to the E10 fuel was to blame for Mercedes no longer being the cream of the crop, Wolff explained that the high levels of drag on the W13 are likely muddying the picture of just how good their power unit really is.
"We have found the improvements that we believe can be done on the E10," he commented.
"The team in Brixworth is doing a good job. I think, at the moment, the drag to performance picture isn't giving them enough credit."
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