Jenson Button believes Sebastian Vettel is not going to enjoy the kind of advantage he held at the start of last season when the new campaign kicks off in Australia next month.
Boosted by the ongoing promise shown by his new McLaren in testing, Button thinks that his team is in pretty good shape as it continues its preparations for Melbourne.
"Seb is obviously the favourite, as he should be as he has won the last two world championships," explained Button. "There have been regulation changes, and I think still Red Bull will be strong this year from the word go, but I don't think they will have the advantage they had at the start of last year."
Button thinks that McLaren has built on the good base it delivered in Jerez - and he is looking forward to a big update package coming for the next test in Barcelona next week.
"I say that is a good step forward from Jerez in terms of understanding the car more, and also the reliability is much better than we had in Jerez. We are making steps forward but there is no big step forward as we have not changed anything on car.
"But there will definitely be something new for Melbourne. We have an update on the car for the first race. It is not a completely straightforward update as it is not about bolting downforce on the car - it is slightly more than that.
"I just hope we are going in the right direction. The wind tunnel says we are. I am looking to the update next week, and then we can start balancing the car and finding a direction for the first race."