The line up continues:
Mercedes (Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg)
Mercedes held fourth position and will be hoping to mix it with the big three this year. However, as team boss Ross Brawn acknowledged, this season looks like being very tight and the German outfit will have to fend off strong challenges from Force India, Lotus and some of the unpredictable packages further down the grid. Rosberg is developing into a real talent and his pace compared to Schumacher will be interesting to watch. While many questioned the seven-times world champion’s return, he is an undeniable talent and his resolve is second to none. Mercedes are another team building on last year’s package and will hope to be able to combine its straight line speed with a little more finesse in the corners.
Ferrari (Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa)
Ferrari are bringing a radical new package to Australia and Alonso is sceptical about it. The team believe it has potential but few expect to see it this weekend and the longer the development process takes, the riskier Ferrari’s position becomes. With a tight field behind and having trailed a bit last year the prancing horses will need to sort themselves out quickly. Ferrari’s President Luca di Montezemolo has demanded a competitive car for the first weekend and as the only Italian representative left in the sport, the team needs success to avoid their home crowd tearing them apart. Massa in particular was rarely happy with his car last year and will need to be fighting for his place at the top of the grid.
McLaren (Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton)
McLaren still look the most likely team to be able to trip up the Red Bulls and have had a far more successful off-season than last year. The team is confident that they will be competitive but are keen to point out how close the season is going to be. Button is often seen as the biggest threat from the Woking-based team but Hamilton looks to be in a good position to challenge. He is known to have fantastic pace and race craft but his season last year was hampered by his mentality. He is believed to have sorted some personal issues and will be keen to use his competitive edge to assert himself against Button and the Red Bulls.
Red Bull (Sebastien Vettel, Mark Webber)
Little needs saying. It is the same winning combination and the team is confident though they have not shown dominance in the pre-season. They will be the team to beat and Vettel is already eyeing up a third consecutive world championship. In his way will be Webber – who we know can hold his own in the team – as well as the Mclarens, Raikkonnen and Alonso who would enjoy few things more than thwarting the German’s plans. Red Bull still look like the team to beat but there are a lot of drivers willing to take on the challenge.