Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed his team were in a much happier place with their modified W14 challenger after experiencing “no bouncing” during the opening day of pre-season testing at Sakhir.
The Silver Arrows saw their eight-year streak of constructors’ titles come to an end last year after their W13 was plagued by unexpected and excessive porpoising.
But twelve months on from a troubled test in Bahrain, Mercedes enjoyed faultless running as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell racked up 152 laps between them.
“We’ve had a solid start to testing,” said Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
“The car has run faultlessly from start to finish and that has allowed us to complete an ambitious programme for day one.
“It always takes a few days to understand a new car, but we’ve got a reasonable handle on where we want to improve the balance.
“It was encouraging that it’s a much calmer, more stable platform to work with than the W13.
“The performance picture is always blurred after the first day so it’s impossible to say where we stand, but we’ve already identified several key areas where we can find some performance.
“We’ll work on the assumption that we’re playing catch up and need to pull out all the stops to find performance ahead of the first race here in one week’s time.
“The next two days are going to be just as packed as today as we’re squeezing every bit of learning we can into the programme.
“Hopefully the car continues to run like clockwork, and we can make the most of the remaining track time.”
After finishing sixth and trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by over six-tenths, Hamilton admitted it is too early to know where Mercedes stand in the 2023 pecking order.
“We got through our programme and have gathered lots of data,” the seven-time world champion said.
“We also had good reliability which contributed to our strong mileage total; that is down to the amazing work done back at Brackley and Brixworth.
“We’ve got to keep pushing, focus on ourselves, and stay focused. It’s difficult to know where we are in the order, but we’ll get a better feeling in the days to come.”
Russell, who ended up ninth-quickest after taking part in the morning session, echoed his teammate’s assessment, adding: “It was great to be back out in the car and get a first real experience of the W14.
“It is still too early to say where our performance levels are relative to the competition, but we had a clean day and learned a lot.
“There are plenty of positives to take away and we can focus on maximising the potential of the car in the coming days.”