Button tips Mercedes and Williams to shine
5 March 2014 – McLaren driver Jenson Button says he is unsure of the competitive order ahead of the start of the 2014 season, but believes that Mercedes and Williams could be the teams to beat.
Button, a three-time winner of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, reckons that Mercedes and Williams will be frontrunners after a 'messy winter'.
Williams's Felipe Massa set the fastest time during the final test in Bahrain, closely followed by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
"It has been a messy winter for a lot of people in terms of mileage on circuit," Button told Sky Sports News.
"The two that you would pick out that look strong and consistent are Mercedes and Williams. In a way it is not good when you are behind certain teams, but I am happy for Frank Williams that they have a competitive car so far this year. I think those are the two teams to beat right now."
"We didn't have our upgrade on the car in testing - we did actually have it on, but we didn't get to run it as we had a few issues - so for the moment we don't really know where we stand. Those two are the teams that I think looked strongest over winter testing, whether that will be the case when we get to Melbourne - it is a very different circuit to Bahrain - we have to wait and see."
Button dismissed suggestions that Red Bull's RB10 won't be quick but acknowledged that the team faces problems in completing a full race distance after both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo encountered several issues across all three pre-season tests.
"I think you will see them putting in very good laps in qualifying," he said of the reigning World Champions.
"Whether they can get to the end of a race or not I don't know. For any team, to get to the end of a race is very difficult - especially at the start of the season - and if you do get to the end of the race there are some good points up for grabs."
Button added that such a scenario is likely to aid Marussia and Caterham.
"I think for the smaller teams it is the best chance to score points - especially the two teams that haven't scored a point in F1," he said.
"It is going to be a tough start to the season, reliability is important, but to win you just don't need reliability, you need a competitive car and an intelligent team behind you that really understands what it takes to win a race."