Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes appear to be in a less than the favourable position at present. The German outfit have looked comfortably second-best to Red Bull in terms of outright performance since pre-season testing.
Max Verstappen took the lead with only a few laps to go but was ordered to give up the position after exceeding the controversially enforced track limits at turn four to sneak ahead. Red Bull appear to be preparing a significant performance upgrade for the second race of the new season, according to Motorsport.com.
It remains to be seen whether Mercedes and Hamilton will finally be challenged for silverware in the coming months after scooping every available title since 2013. Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin expressed deep concern over his team's chances of sealing another championship double earlier this week.
"Ordinarily, excluding this year because it is different, you would look to the wind tunnel to try to just put on a bit of downforce over the course of the year, and you would look at the power unit to try to add a bit of power," Shovlin told Crash.net.
"But both of those are very restricted by regulation this year, so we have very little time in the wind tunnel. The dyno is also very restricted and you can’t improve the engine for performance this year.
"So we are having to look at more subtle areas to do with drivability characteristics, and also arriving at the circuit with the car well sorted and well balanced, doing your homework and knowing how well the tyres will run.
"This season is actually going to come down to the fine margins much more than normal, because I don’t see us really being able to develop to a point where we can get clearly ahead. And hopefully Red Bull won’t develop to a point that they are clearly ahead."
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