Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has hit back at Dr Helmut Marko’s predicted 2019 pecking order.
The Red Bull advisor believes Ferrari are out in front, with Red Bull two tenths behind, while the Silver Arrows sit further back still from the pair.
Speaking via APA news agency, Wolff said: “I don’t think anyone can tell if someone is two tenths ahead or two tenths back.
“That would mean they know how much fuel the others had, and we don’t.
“At the moment it looks like Ferrari is ahead, with not much between Red Bull and Mercedes, but on Saturday and Sunday we will know a little more.”
Lewis Hamilton went just 0.003s shy of Sebastian Vettel’s fastest lap of testing, but Wolff is concerned with his team’s pace on long runs.
“If you look at the eight days, we did a fast lap on the last day, but it wasn’t that strong on the race simulations,” he said.
“Sebastian said the car goes where he wants it to go. Our car is not yet optimally balanced.
“We had a problem with the stability in high speed with a bit of understeer, and we had understeer in the low speed, especially the last sector.”
Wolff believes that Mercedes are playing catch-up in 2019, but that the team enjoy that role as a change from always being the favourites.
“It’s not something that’s new to us. First, we have to understand the car and then we’ll see,” he explained.
“But somehow this year we do not feel we are in the favourites role, but catching up is also something we enjoy.”