Though Pink Panthers, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon still regularly match one another in terms of performance, they are usually to be found lower down the order, and even after just two races matching the highs that saw the Silverstone-based outfit finishing 'best of the rest' for two consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017 seems a mighty hard call.
Talking to the media in China, technical director Andy Green revealed that the main issue facing the team is the correlation of data, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and windtunnel data not matching up to reality.
"It started probably between the Barcelona tests and Melbourne," said Green. "We were a bit dubious about the data we were receiving, whether it was real or not, and then we needed to perform more tests on the car and some additional logging on the car, instrumentation, to see if it was a real phenomenon or not.
"Everything we have seen so far suggests it is real," he admits, "so we have been attacking it to try to instigate a change. But as of yet we have yet to make any real inroads into it.
"It is not a tunnel issue, it is a full-size issue," he reveals. "It doesn't match tunnel or CFD. The tunnel and CFD match, but unfortunately they don't match reality."
The reality is the VJM11's poor balance in corners, balance so fluctuates, particularly at the rear of the car, that is making it impossible to evaluate new parts such as the new wing taken to Bahrain.
"We are still very confident that the front wing does what we wanted of it," says Green. "But it was designed to go with a car that generates more rear load which we don't have at the moment. Once that load appears and you put the wing on, that generates even more rear load so it is a double whammy. That is why we are very keen to break into it.
"It is incredibly difficult to judge because the tyres come into it massively. It is not just an aero load, it is a tyre management problem as well. It is very difficult to manage the rear tyres when you have a fluctuating rear load."
However, the team is hoping that a major update planned for the Spanish Grand Prix next month will fix the problem.
"I am hoping we will have something that will attack it head-on Barcelona time," he said. "There is definitely a solution there. What we are trying to do is find a quick solution. With a clean sheet of paper we could probably solve it straight away, but we don't have a clean sheet of paper, we already have a car that exists. So it takes a bit longer to try to do it with the resources we have and the car we already have. It will take a couple of races I think."
On the other hand, he admits: "It may be a fundamental change that we made over the winter that we need to backtrack on. The car is different. It may look the same, but every part of the car is different, so which part of the car did we change that fundamentally upset the car? It is a very subtle change. It just goes to change how much of a knife-edge that we work on."