Bahrain's ultra abrasive surface is proving challenging for Mercedes, but Toto Wolff doesn't believe the team's W09 has inherited the "diva" traits of its 2017 predecessor.
The German squad conceded defeat to Ferrari yesterday in qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton simply lacking the pace over one lap to challenge its rival for pole.
"I always said right from the beginning that this was going to be a season where it was going to be much tougher, particularly against Ferrari and Red Bull," he said.
"I was genuine about it and I meant it, and you could see that on a track like Bahrain with a very abrasive surface and lots of heat, we struggle."
Indeed, Mercedes has been particularly attentive to the W09's tyre temperatures this weekend. Asked if the "diva" gremlins which impacted the behaviour of its 2017 car had perhaps returned in Bahrain, Wolff dismissed the idea.
"No, it's different," said the Austrian.
"She's not a diva. I think the drivers feel that the car is very much together. But we just lacked the pace today here."
"In the last years we always seemed to struggle on particular circuits. Bahrain was one where we were successful in terms of results in the past, but also sometimes it was not trivial to find the right set-up.
"And it's interesting that the regulations change, the car's completely different, the tyres change, but it's a little bit within the DNA of each car to have strengths and weaknesses, and it seems that these strengths and weaknesses stay, even though everything else changes."