Red Bull is the obvious favourite while Ferrari scrabbles to understand its ‘complex car’ and Mercedes admits it is not yet ready to win.
The sounds emanating from the McLaren camp, in contrast, are almost entirely positive. Compared to last winter, the difference is stark, as team boss Martin Whitmarsh explains: “We were too bold and the car was neither competitive or reliable,” he is quoted by El Pais newspaper.
“What we did, turning it around, was a miracle because we changed the rear of the car completely. We almost didn’t believe it because we found a second, if not a second and a half.”
After his own tumultuous 2011, Lewis Hamilton has also been given reason to smile, recalling: “Last year we struggled to do 30 laps a day.
“Now we’re doing 120, and honestly I can’t remember the last time we did,” said the 2008 world champion. “We are much more comfortable and confident about fighting with any of the other teams,” added Hamilton. “I’m really surprised with how the car behaves in the fast corners.
“I think the base is much better than what we had last year, especially in that area.”
His teammate Jenson Button is also sounding confident, targeting at least a podium in Melbourne next month.
“If we are there or thereabouts at the start of the season then it’s 100 per cent game on for the title,” he is quoted by the Mirror.