Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says it is wrong to draw conclusions from pre-season testing because only racing will determine how good their 2018 challenger is.
Ferrari topped the timesheets in pre-season test, but Mercedes looked sharp over as the 2018 challenger did not suffer any reliability issues and Red Bull's Christian Horner believes the Silver Arrows are once again the favourites to claim the constructors' title.
The true test will come on Sunday when the season gets underway in Australia and Wolff believes Mercedes will find themselves in a three-way battle with Ferrari and Red Bull.
"We’re excited to go racing again. Everything we’ve done over the past months were just the first steps on the road to start our 2018 campaign – from the first build of the car to the first fire-up, from the launch in Silverstone to testing in Barcelona. Now, it’s time to find out what we’ve got: like the old saying goes, when the flag drops, the bullsh*t stops," Wolff said in a team preview.
"Last year, the competition was very close and there was no moment where we could afford to relax. Ferrari put up a very tough fight and we had a proper battle between silver and red. This year promises to bring an exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull. Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has worked extremely hard over the past months to make sure we enter that fight with the best machine possible.
"Both our drivers seem reasonably happy with our new car, but it remains yet to be seen how well it performs when driven in anger. The reduction in the number of power unit components means that reliability will again play an important role in 2018. Our reliability in testing looked good but we need to be careful to draw any conclusions from that – despite getting some good mileage with the new car in Barcelona, many of its components have not even come close to the life they need to complete during the season.
"We will tackle this new season with the same dedication, team spirit and energy that has made us strong in the past. We start this long season on zero points like every one of our rivals. And we have to give it everything to be successful again this year."
The 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship is live on eir Sport with the season getting underway with the Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 25. All three practice sessions from Melbourne Park are live on eir Sport 1 before live qualifying on Saturday at 6am. Lights go out on the first race of the season on Sunday at 6.10am
Image: Getty Images/Mark Thompson