Mercedes F1 team principal, Toto Wolff believes the championship is Red Bull's to lose, citing that the Austrian outfit has the quicker car.
Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag in Bahrain, giving the Silver Arrows the first battle in what is expected to be a season-long fight with Red Bull. Wolff admits Mercedes have work to do to match the Milton Keynes outfit, but he believes the challenge has brought a new energy to the team that hasn't been present since 2013.
“It's theirs (Red Bull) to lose, ours to win, because when you have the quickest car, you have got to deliver on that," Wolff told Autosport.com.
"We have to catch up. We have to deploy our A-game and find more performance. But strictly speaking, we are second best on the road.
"In a way there is a feeling within the team that we very much enjoy the new circumstances, and it's that, on paper, Red Bull is ahead with maybe all of their package.
“The fun factor of us being in the hunt is very enjoyable, because it is a new situation, and we embrace this opportunity.
“That hasn't been the case since 2013. And I loved 2013. I've said it in the team that I feel like the same pump as when I first joined. And it was Red Bull domination then: they were just going to win the fourth championship.”
Mercedes will see whether they've closed the gap to Red Bull in a little under two weeks, with the next F1 race scheduled for Imola on April 18.