Lewis Hamilton opened up on Mercedes ' chances of winning the F1 world championship.
The second round of testing concluded in Bahrain yesterday, with rival and current champion Max Verstappen topping the leaderboard.
The 37-year-old was languishing in 17th, with teammate George Russell finishing fourth.
Moments after the session came to an end, a disappointed Hamilton admitted two teams are currently quicker than the silver arrows.
He also suggested Mercedes are not currently competing for the world championship and still have some issues to iron out ahead of the new campaign.
"It is too early to have those kind of thoughts about the world championship, but at the moment I don't think we will be competing for wins," said Hamilton.
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"I am sure everyone can figure out that we are not the quickest. Ferrari look to be the fastest, and perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us, or McLaren. We are currently not at the top."
Mercedes also struggled in pre-season testing last year, but Hamilton made an emphatic statement by defeating Verstappen in last season’s opening race.
But with the new rules and regulations coming into play in 2022, Mercedes are still adjusting and have yet to extract the best from the W13.
Toto Wolff’s men have won seven of the last eight drivers titles and the last eight constructors championships but, as things stand, if they were to win this year, it would be their biggest victory yet.
"It feels a lot different to last year. It doesn't look as good,” the motorsport legend said.
"We have far bigger challenges and they are not one-week turnarounds. They will take a little bit longer. I am told we have a considerable amount of pace to find.
"There is potential within our car to get us there. We just have to learn to extract it and fix the problems which is what we are doing. But we have hurdles to overcome.
"Next week we will get a better showing of our pace but people might be surprised. We are being told we are talking ourselves down, but it is a bit different this year."
A driver who was happy with his performance in testing was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished second on the final day of testing in Bahrain, backing up an impressive session in Barcelona last month.
"It is one of the smoothest preparations that I have had," the 24-year-old said afterwards.
"On a new project you expect to find barriers along the way but it has been smooth and we have managed to improve.
"Mercedes have not shown their potential. We know how much margin we have, but we don't know how much the others hide their game.
"We need to be cautious. It is nice to be at the front but it doesn't mean anything for now."
Ferrari have not won the driver’s title since 2007 when the now retired Kimi Räikkönen won his lone world championship.
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