Mercedes is closer to the pace than its pace in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix suggests, according to Nico Rosberg.
The German qualified seventh, 1.892sec off Sebastian Vettel's pole time, but Rosberg has no doubts that a combination of car problems – including difficulties with the KERS system – driver error and the unusual Melbourne track configuration have stretched the deficit to Red Bull.
"We are not as bad as we look today," said Rosberg when asked whether the gap to the front is really almost two seconds, as the times suggest. "We must not exaggerate and say that we are 1.9sec off the pace.
"For one, technically not everything was working on my car in qualifying, so there is a bit of time there. And I had a lock-up on my fastest laps. There were a few things that came together. But, on the other hand, we are definitely further away than we thought. That is very clear."
Teammate Michael Schumacher was unsure as to why Mercedes was struggling to replicate the form that it showed in the final preseason test at Barcelona after a major car upgrade.
"We are not exactly where we want to be, but we don't know the reasons why this is the cars," said the seven-time World Champion. "You can have theories, but we want to analyze, understand and take action."