Mercedes was not the only team that had a torrid time at pre-season testing in Bahrain.

New entrants Aston Martin, supplied by Mercedes, very much felt the heat as well. Marquee driver Sebastian Vettel was plagued with reliability issues on all three days. In terms of mileage, only Mercedes managed to be worse off.

McLaren, meanwhile, had a good showing and will be confident they can hold on to their third position from last year.

All of this has led F1 presenter Will Buxton to think that Aston Martin will struggle against their direct competition.

“They are on the back foot going into the season. It is not the sort of joyous entry to the year that they had been hoping for.”

Ferrari, too, has been impressive in testing, especially with regard to its engine.

Buxton believes Ferrari’s feeder team Alfa Romeo will be direct competitors for Aston Martin, as he predicts that they will find themselves in the lower pantheons of the mid-field.

“Potentially, fighting with Alpine or maybe battling with Alfa Romeo. Of course, it’s too early to tell what’s really going on, but it wasn’t as good as a testing week that they had hoped for.”

With Vettel only notching 117 laps, the least of all regular drivers, the German believes it is perhaps too early to judge just how competitive Ferrari will be this year.

“Where are we? I think it’s very difficult to say in terms of competitiveness. We haven’t done many runs that probably equal other people’s runs to give us a bit of a comparison,” Vettel said.

“But I don’t think that’s too important, because we’ll find out in two weeks anyway, so everything from now onwards is nice for you, two weeks of speculation.”

Read more: “A place to call my own”: Hamilton hints at England return

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