Lewis Hamilton is expecting another strong performance from Ferrari this weekend in China, where Shanghai's long straights will cater to the straight-line speed of the Scuderia's SF90.
Ferrari was unexpectedly outpaced by Mercedes in Melbourne, but the Italian squad hit back in Bahrain, although a mishap from Sebastian Vettel and engine issues for Charles Leclerc limited the team's points haul.
Mercedes leads its arch-rival by 39 points in the Constructors' standings, but Hamilton insists it's early days still.
"The first few races of every season are really difficult to judge," said Hamilton on Thursday.
"We didn't expect the performance we had at the first race, we didn't expect to see what we saw at the second race. It's only the third race. It feels like it's been a long time already."
Still, the reigning world champion fears that Ferrari's power output and straight-line speed "might serve them really well here". The Brit is hoping he won't need to bank on the other camp's misfortune to prevail on Sunday.
"I hope that we don't have to rely on reliability, and I hope we have a much closer race," he said.
"I think qualifying was OK in the last race, but in the race there was a big delta. This is a great track to have a real race, so the closer it is, the better."
Australian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas agrees with his Mercedes team mate on how Shanghai's layout plays right into Ferrari's strengths.
"It definitely can make the difference," said Bottas, alluding to the Chinese circuit's long back straight.
"It is a track with very long straights and straightline power and speed is really important here.
"There are corners as well, but we know they are going to be strong coming into this weekend.
"Hopefully we have our strengths in other places, but definitely we can see the area where we need to push forward with the development.
"There are further upgrades to the car here. Hopefully that can make us stronger, but it is difficult to say more than that."