MARCH 25, 2017
Brawn ready to fight as pecking order unfurls
Ross Brawn says he will be keeping an eagle-eye on the track in 2017, starting with this weekend's Australian grand prix.
In Melbourne, bold new regulations producing much faster cars are having their maiden competitive outing, but Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton looks set to dominate.
That is despite the fact that, in the winter, Ferrari arguably looked quicker, while hopes were high that Red Bull's Adrian Newey would ultimately ace the new rules.
Red Bull's Christian Horner said: "I think, being realistic, the performance we've seen so far from Lewis, he's the absolute favourite."
Indeed, Mercedes' Toto Wolff said the British driver is in "a league of his own", ahead of any rival team but also new teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo said: "We are in a group behind Lewis with Ferrari and Bottas."
Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene said the Italian team will not do any "panicking" as a result of practice so far, while Mercedes' Niki Lauda warned that any assessment of Bottas is also too early.
"Bottas drove well," said the F1 legend.
"Nobody can expect that he straight away beats the world-world-world champion who has been in the team for years."
It is also possible that the pecking order could change slightly on Saturday, when Ferrari might unveil a brand new 'qualifying mode' for its engine.
"Let's see where we stand when everyone's trousers are pulled down," said Sebastian Vettel.
Intently watching the entire saga unfold is F1's new sporting chief, Ross Brawn, who indicated that Liberty Media is ready to act for the good of the sport.
"If we see things this year that we don't think are great for the sport, we'll be fighting our corner and we'll be fighting at every level," he said.
"You can rest assured that we will be working with the teams, working with the FIA, to find solutions if we don't think the racing is as good as it could be."