Martin Brundle believes the narrative in F1 around car rake is a "distraction" and that Mercedes' W12 simply "isn't working well" relative to Red Bull's RB16B contender.
In a bid to reduce downforce levels this season, F1 implemented several aerodynamic rule changes, the most significant of which was a reduction of a car's floor surface.
The change has thrown off base a few teams whose designs follow a low-rake concept, such as Mercedes and Aston Martin, while Red Bull's high-rake approach has been much less impacted by the floor alterations.
But Brundle believes that Mercedes' current pace deficit relative to Red Bull is rooted in more than a fundamental rake issue, although the Sky F1 pundit is confident that the Brackley squad will improve its performance despite this year's limited scope for development as imposed by the regulations.
"I think the rake thing is a little bit of a distraction and I think the Mercedes is not really working that well at the moment," Brundle told Motorsport.com.
"Red Bull and Honda are working particularly well, as are a few other cars.
"The regulations mean you can’t just keep throwing new upgrades at it every week like they have perhaps done in the past, but Mercedes will get it together.
"[Lewis] Hamilton and Mercedes are still the combo to beat for the world championship."
Brundle insists it would be wrong to dismiss Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton's win in Bahrain demonstrated. The former F1 driver is expecting another close battle at Imola this week between the reigning world champions and their Milton Keynes rival.
"I wouldn’t underestimate Mercedes. I mean everybody is talking about rake and how it has damaged Mercedes and therefore Aston Martin, but unless I’m mistaken, a Mercedes won the race in Bahrain with Red Bull having dominated the last race [in Abu Dhabi] last year," Brundle added.
"I think it will be really close, they will sort the Mercedes out. Hamilton was absolutely magnificent in Bahrain and for me he won the race as much as anybody else lost it, or any team lost it.
"I really don’t know who will be best around Imola and that is the wonderful thing about live sport."