|© AP Images
Drivers maintained that the results of the pre-season tests were inconclusive to judge which team had the edge ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
It is believed that last year’s status quo would remain but none would raise their hopes just to find it crashing down when the team’s hit the Albert Park circuit come Sunday.
"I'm not expecting anything," Lewis Hamilton was quoted saying on Reuters. "I think it would be silly to have any expectation, it would be silly to say 'we are definitely going to be on the front row' because we might find out in the next couple of days that we're not the quickest."
The McLaren driver however said that the performance of his car was “there or thereabouts" indicating that the British team could pose a serious challenge to favourites Red Bull.
"If the cars are closer than last year, then the driver should be able to make a difference,” the 2008 world champion pointed out. "The best driver should be able to extract that little bit more but it's difficult to know how much that bit is."
Ferrari has discounted itself from being a serious contender from the opening races and is focussed at performing later in the season, with Hamilton agreeing that a solid start was not imperative.
"It's not as important as you probably think," he said. "It's obviously important to have consistency throughout the season. I had a good start last year and it didn't really add up to much."
Mark Webber indicated that it would take at least two Grands Prix to determine which team has the goods.
“Malaysia is just around the corner, so we have two big races, we’re going to get a really good snapshot of the performances of the cars,” the Australian driver said.
“I think there’s a little bit of rust in all the teams, obviously we haven’t raced for a while,” he added. “I think we’re all just looking forward to getting our helmets on and getting on with it now.”
Teammate and world champion Sebastian Vettel too concurred saying that it would be hard to make a judgement so early, particularly after Melbourne.
“This track is very different to, let’s say, a ‘normal’ race track, such as the track we have been to a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona,” Vettel went on to explained.
“Again, we will give you the same answers (after Friday practice),” he continued. “You don’t know about fuel etc. Really, we have to wait until Saturday and then it’s the first couple of races that will show you a trend. Sooner than that is really not possible.”
Further down the grid, Daniel Ricciardo had some conclusions.
“I think realistically we’re still in the group we were in last year but it does seem like it’s closed up,” the Toro Rosso driver said.
The 22-year-old is nevertheless aiming to finish in the points and also beat his rookie teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.
"I guess I expect myself to have a bit of an edge," Ricciardo told Reuters. "I've done more races than Jean-Eric, who hasn't done any, so of course if he's going to be in front of me this weekend I won't be happy with myself.
"We've raced against each other for a few years now and he's quick and I know he's capable,” he added.