Mercedes can’t be pleased with their start to 2018, but they’ll remain confident of pulling off a fifth consecutive dual title-winning season.
With Lewis Hamilton in one of their cars, it could even be argued the Silver Arrows and their star man are still favourites to take out both championships.
Ferrari have capitalised on Mercedes’ poor showings in Australia and Bahrain, though, establishing a ten-point lead over their rivals ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.
Hamilton also finds himself in the unfamiliar position of second place in the drivers’ standings, 17 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel.
The Brit – who’s chasing a fifth world title – is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal that many expected would be confirmed prior to the opening race in Melbourne.
It’s thought to be only a matter of time before Hamilton commits to Mercedes, but with the contract on offer only keeping him put until 2020, one ponders whether he could end his career elsewhere.
While a swansong at Ferrari has long been on the cards, the 33-year-old’s current team seems to be developing a contingency plan, irrespective of where he might choose to see out his racing days.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff already has a couple of drivers in mind – one of which he’s previously attempted to sign.
“Carlos [Sainz] is a very special boy, very intelligent, with the right values, with the right family and he is very fast driver,” he told Mundo Deportivo, via the Express.
“It will be good to compare him with [Nico] Hulkenberg.
“If he performs well against Nico it will be on the radar of all the teams.
“I have always gotten along with Carlos and his father, we have always maintained a very good private relationship.
“We talked about the possibility of being in Mercedes, but he was a Red Bull driver and there was no option.”
Esteban Ocon – who picked up his first point of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit last weekend – is the other youngster who’s caught Wolff’s attention.
“Esteban is my little treasure,” he added.
“I’ve known him for a long time and every year he has to respond to high expectations and he does it. It is impressive how he has grown.”
Mercedes would be wise to start planning for the future soon, even Hamilton has several years left in the tank.
If the competitive start to this season is anything to go by, it’s not a decision they afford to get wrong.News Now - Sport News