On the eve of the 2018 Formula One season, we appear to be in an unusual position. One that we haven't experienced for four seasons; how strong are Mercedes this year?
As has been the case for the past couple of seasons, the current Constructors' Champions usually show up at testing, rack up hundreds of laps, outpace everyone, and then head home, safe in the knowledge that they will (probably) win both the Drivers' and Constructors' title.
This year, however, it's a slightly different scenario. Yes, Mercedes set the fastest times during the past two weeks' testing at Barcelona, but Ferrari looked equally as comfortable in their outings.
There are murmurs around the paddock that Ferrari's 2018 challenger, longer than last year's entry, will be a real force at the front of the grid this year.
What's more, Valtteri Bottas has admitted that the team are unsure what kind of qualifying pace Mercedes will possess this season. Last year, it was their qualifying performances that made the difference at many races last year. Such was the difficulties of overtaking at various circuits last year, Lewis Hamilton typically won the majority of his races from pole.
Bottas admitted that the team's focus on full-distance race pace simulations at Barcelona means they do not have a perception of one-lap pace as we head to the season opener at Melbourne in 2 weeks time.
"It's nice to get some race simulation under my belt and feel the tyres and the car in the long run.
"There's so much more time in testing to try different things in the car and get comfortable in there. Lewis was pretty much doing the same.
"For us, I have to say the pure one-lap pace is unknown, but I guess we'll find out in a couple of weeks."