Michael: It will be extremely close

Monday 04-March-2013 08:40

Sam Michael believes it will be "extremely tight" during qualifying in Melbourne, but he is confident McLaren "will be in the mix".

Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull all led the pack at various stages during pre-season testing this campaign with Mercedes probably the pick of the bunch.

However, all teams will be first to admit that you shouldn't read too much into the times of these tests and McLaren sporting director Michael feels the pack will be bunched up for the first race in Australia.

"You've got nine teams within a second," he is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "That is going to make it close. It will make it extremely tight through the qualifying sessions in Melbourne."

Nico Rosberg posted the fastest time over the two pre-season tests at Barcelona while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished P1 on both his testing days at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Michael admits he is impressed by the pace of the Brackley squad's W04, but as usual a lot of the teams were not doing the same runs so it is difficult predict what will happen in Australia.

"You can clearly see Mercedes are fast," he said. "They have been fast all the time. They look like they've got their car together.

"Behind that, it's really difficult to see anything else. When everyone is on the same tyres, you still don't know where the fuel loads are and you're not going to know that until qualifying in Melbourne and we'd be kidding ourselves if we thought we knew."

As for Jenson Button and Sergio Perez's chances come race day Albert Park, Michael said: "We'll definitely be in the mix. In terms of confidence of whether we can be on the front row and win in Melbourne, I just don't know.

"I wouldn't say I was confident or unconfident. I'm neither way, just because I'm being honest. We just don't know."

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