Mercedes narrowly set the pace on Friday in China, 24 hours after its drivers expressed quite severe concerns. Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes faces a "very, very hard" prospect of trying to cut into its Formula 1 rival Ferrari's major engine advantage, if the edge it had on the straights in Bahrain is real.
Valtteri Bottas added that making up a four tenths of a second deficit, which is roughly what Mercedes (more than once) thought it was losing on the straights at the previous race, is "very difficult" over one season.
As we have already explored, Mercedes' pace in China sets the scene for F1's top two teams' first real head to head fight of 2019. But the events of this weekend could be critical to much more than just the quality of this season's show.