Mercedes in pole position ahead of Australian opener

Nico Rosberg driving the Brackley-based Mercedes during pre-season testing

Nico Rosberg driving the Brackley-based Mercedes during pre-season testing

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Brackley-based Mercedes will go into next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix – the first F1 race of the season – as favourites for the 2014 World Championship title.

With teams assembling in Australia ahead of next week’s opening Grand Prix, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both performed well at the final pre-season test in Bahrain last week, and are confident that the 2014 Mercedes is capable of challenging for victory down under.

Hamilton said: “We had a good test. It was not without some troubles but every team has encountered some problems with the design and development of their cars to meet the new regulations.

“I think we have a strong package. The Mercedes V6 engine seems to be the best engine so far and the first race should be pretty exciting. Saying that, I don’t think we can expect to have it all our own way!”

Red Bull, the reigning world champions, have had a torrid start to the year with their new car continually breaking down in the three pre-season tests.

But Hamilton remains wary of the threat posed by the Milton Keynes-based team and insists they cannot be written off, adding: “Red Bull have had some big problems but they are good at getting the job done and I expect them to be in a strong position in Australia. I am sure they will sort their problems out.”

Hamilton’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg, completed 103 laps on his final day of testing in the W305 and while concerns remain over the reliability of his Mercedes, the German is looking forward to next week’s opener, saying: “So far all the teams with Mercedes engines look good, so I believe Williams, Force India and McLaren will offer the strongest opposition to Lewis and myself for the first race.

“It’s going to be tough and not an easy one to call.”