Lewis Hamilton has ruled out Mercedes fighting for the title, saying the deficit is too big to close overnight.
Hamilton joined Mercedes from McLaren aware that a tough task awaited him given the team's lack of pace last season.
But despite Mercedes failing to challenge in 2012, leading drivers Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso reckon Hamilton has what it takes to drag the team to the front.
Hamilton, though, says that probably won't happen this season.
"I think that people are talking us up at the moment," said the 28-year-old.
"Vettel and Fernando are saying that we're going to compete for the World Championship. I really don't see that happening.
"Of course that's our goal, but you've got to remember the car was over a second, sometimes two seconds, off last year.
"We haven't caught two seconds up and the other teams would have put another second on this year, so we've not gained three seconds. That's just a fact.
"Hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have gained three seconds - that's our goal. But definitely not at the beginning."
The Brit, though, did acknowledge that Mercedes could be in a winning position should the rain come down. However, Hamilton says he would rather win on merit than in a lottery.
"When it rains, it definitely makes it more of a lottery. We're working towards being quick in the dry.
"We don't want to have these days gifted to us where some people fall off and we happen to overtake them through luck.
"We want to do it through hard work, and that's what the guys are working towards."
Hamilton highlighted some of his W04's strengths and weaknessess saying the "engine is the strongest point, the downforce is the weakest point. Nice and easy.
"The downforce factor is what everybody's pushing massively hard for. The team won a race last year so they clearly have not such a bad foundation in terms of the mechanical side of the car. But in terms of downforce, that's where we need to improve."
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