Mercedes engineering director Andrew Shovlin has said the 2021 Silver Arrows machine is lacking pace in comparison to Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix doesn’t mean much for the championship fight; Red Bull was quicker than Mercedes in both qualifying and during the race, and the Briton was able to take the victory only because of the controversial overtake from Verstappen, who then had to give back the position.

“We don’t really have any strengths relative to them – is what I would say – and we’ve had a lot of years where we’ve been able to rely on straight-line speed or high-speed cornering or interconnected corners. But you look at it here [in Bahrain] and we weren’t taking any time out of them anywhere.

“There were a couple of corners they took chunks out of us in qualifying – the high speed, also turns 9 and 10 – they were very strong there. And that’s really the main thing. Qualifying, they’re just ban on the pace in our best corners, and they’re quicker in others; so we need a faster car, simple as that.”

Shovlin also stated there is not much to do regarding Mercedes’ performance this year, as the cost cap and the token system are limiting their ability to improve their car.

“Normally you’d look to the wind tunnel to try and just put on a bit of downforce over the course of the year. You’d also look at the power unit to try and put on some power, but both of those are restricted this year by the regulations, so we have very little time with the wind tunnel.

“Dyno is also heavily restricted – we can’t develop the engine performance this year – so we’re having to look at more subtle areas to do with drivability characteristics.

“I think also arriving at the circuit with the car well sorted, well balanced, doing your homework, knowing how long your tires will run… I think this season – this championship – is actually going to come down to the fine margins more than normal,” he concluded.

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