It’s Red Bull versus McLaren claim their rivals 15 March, 2012 Sebastian Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton during pre-season testing in Barcelona Mar.15 (GMM) A general consensus has emerged in the Albert Park paddock, about the likely pecking-order this weekend in Australia based on Winter testing. This year’s longest-ever Formula 1 season looks set to be very closely contested, but experts, pundits and insiders largely agree about the rough shape of Saturday’s Melbourne grid. “From what I saw in the tests, Red Bull and McLaren seem to be at a similar pace,” Francesco Nenci, Kamui Kobayashi’s race engineer at Sauber, told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper. “Then comes Mercedes and then our team along with Lotus and Ferrari. But we’ll only really find out here,” he told Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio in Melbourne. Steve Nielsen, Caterham’s sporting director, agrees. “Red Bull and McLaren are the best, Mercedes is a little bit behind and then it’s Lotus, Ferrari, Sauber and Force India,” he said. And given that the top three teams will presumably dominate the first six positions in Q3, the last part of qualifying “should be exciting”, Nielsen smiled. But so will the fight at the front, with McLaren’s Jenson Button desperate to end Red Bull’s two-year run of dominance. “With quite a big change in the regulations in terms of the blown diffuser, now is the interesting time to see whether Red Bull can hang onto the advantage they have had,” said the Briton. “If they can, it is going to be very difficult to beat them over the next few years.” Subbed by AJN. Evel I think Mercedes are right up there and are going to surprise. According to some Mercedes long term pace may even be quicker – I really hope so, it would be great to see Schumacher back on the podium, even better if he’s on the middle step! Obvious @evel Problem is… If the Merc is on pace to podium or win… It prolly won’t be Schumi… That doesn’t mean he didn’t contribute massively to develop the car. But I think, on raw pace Nico has an edge, these years. But that would be awesome. Junior_Johnson Evel your such a twat! Schumacher races for ferrari not mercades benz. His been with them since round about 1995. Everyone knows that the ferraris are no good this year. They built a funny nose which blocks air to the exhaust and stalls the car! He’ll never get close to winning!