Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Ferrari is the clear favourite to win the Chinese Grand Prix due to what he feels is an unmatched level of performance from its engine.
Ferrari dominated the second race of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix, on raw performance, but still watched Mercedes record a one-two victory. Charles Leclerc was robbed of a maiden win when a cylinder failed on his V6 engine shortly after teammate Sebastian Vettel had been relegated down the order by a spin.
Mercedes has been convinced since the early stages of pre-season testing that Ferrari has an advantage, and Wolff believes this will become even more apparent in Shanghai, a circuit featuring long straights which favour a powerful engine.
"We expected them to be strong in Melbourne after what we've seen in terms of pace in Barcelona testing," Wolff said. "So Melbourne was more the surprise than Bahrain actually.
"Bahrain was very strong [for Ferrari] -- straight-line performance is unbelievable. The power they have displayed is unmatched by anybody. There was, I think in qualifying, five-tenths on the straights only. That is really difficult to compete with.
"It's not the drag. It's never one silver bullet or one simple action, but the drag levels we have calculated would have been 0.1s maybe in difference. It's sheer power. So we have to get used to this level of performance, in my opinion, and see Melbourne as the outlier."
Last week, Ferrari confirmed Leclerc will keep the engine which cost him that Bahrain win at the next race, with the Italian team having completed an investigation of it back at its factory. That is good news for the Monaco native, as changing engine parts at this stage of the season increases the likelihood of incurring grid penalties later in the season.