With the three preseason tests over a new pecking order seems to be emerging ahead of the opening race in Melbourne next weekend.
Gone is the Red Bull dominated era of the past, with the first V6 powered car designed by Adrian Newey still facing major cooling issues and a seemingly inferior power unit from Renault.
In their place seems to be Mercedes with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton combining to complete the most mileage of any team during the three tests. Indeed all the German-powered teams seem to be a superior advantage as the V6 unit proves to be the most powerful and shows good reliability.
The major beneficiary seems to be Williams who, after a dismal 2013 where they scored just five points, posted the fastest time in Bahrain through the recently acquired Felipe Massa.
Having made the seemingly masterful move from Renault to Mercedes engines for 2014 as well as their knowledge of the new complex recovery systems, the FW36 now appears to be second favourite to claim victory in Australia.
Indeed Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is predicting his team-mate of the last four seasons and driver for the Maranello outfit for eight years will be a “strong rival” at his new home.
“I’ve talked with Felipe several times this year already,” Alonso is quoted by Brazil’s Globo.
“He is happy, Williams has so much history in Formula One and is not just any team, and they have had a very strong pre-season,” he admitted.
“It is very positive because now they can be fighting. Felipe will definitely be a strong rival this year,” the Spaniard added.
Meanwhile the double world champion has faced constant speculation that he is facing a potentially explosive partnership with the man who replaced Massa at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen.
“We are trying to work together, working for Ferrari and arriving in Australia to fight for the race,” Alonso said.
“So let’s have this internal competition – normal in every team – because we all want to be ahead of the other one, and hopefully this can help Ferrari,” he added.
Williams are not the only team predicted to make a step forward, but few are expecting perennial backmarker Marussia to be one of them.
McLaren’s Jenson Button is keeping an eye on the Russian backed team however as they make the switch to Ferrari power for this year they do appear to have a major advantage over their Renault backed rivals Caterham.
“It’s interesting to see how some teams have improved their cars suddenly,” said the 2009 champion.
“There are several teams that are strong at the moment,” he added. “Even Marussia — their car is much better than last year.
“I think people will be surprised at how they are actually competitive,” Button added.
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