Mercedes had a quite difficult pre-season, struggling during the Bahrein testing and the first free practice sessions, with driver Valtteri Bottas going as far as to say that the car was "undriveable.''
Regardless of all the stability issues, the German team still managed to snatch a double podium on Sunday: Lewis Hamilton won the race, but without appearing as dominant as in previous seasons, with Verstappen's Red Bull always close.
A noticeable discussion point seems to be the low rake, which appears to have been impacted in a negative way by the new aero regulations.
Anyway, as Mercedes trackside engineering chief Andrew Shovlin said, a return to higher rake isn't planned, or even possible at the moment. In fact, the team would have to change the whole rear suspension setup, which isn't permitted by the current rules, and consequently, lose all the work put in the W12.
"We've got a car that could win a championship if we make some clever decisions with it, do some good work with it and operate well over the year.", Shovlin said.
"But whether or not it's high rake or low rake, we can't do anything about that now. What we certainly can't do is suddenly say we're going to lift the rear of our car 30mm and work with that, because that would write off the season. We would lose so much in doing that - to recover it, it's just not practical."
While Mercedes hasn't impressed so far, the new Red Bull challenger, which is sporting a high rake as in previous seasons, has shown greater speed so far, almost always scoring the best times, and Shovlin believes that the Austrian team might be advantaged by the new rules:
"Did this set of regulations drag back low-rake cars more than high-rake cars? That may well be the case. I know that they [Red Bull] won the last race [of 2020] but, generally, we were ahead at the end of the year and that's not the case now."
However, he's focusing on how to improve the W12 and isn't particularly worried about it: "So, either we took a bigger hit with the rules or they've had a faster rate of development since they applied the regulation changes. But it is what it is."
Customer team Aston Martin suffered too from the low rake related issues, having just switched to low rake in order to adjust more easily to the Mercedes power unit, but estimating the loss in pace to be around a second per lap, comparing the data to last season's.
Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer admits that a return to a higher rake is impossible, both because of the new regulations and the resources already spent to make the switch: "For the first time ever that I can remember, in my 24 years of the sport, we've had to homologate the suspension due to the COVID regulations, you could only change it if you actually used your tokens on suspension. So even if we wanted to run 150mm rear ride height, we can't."