Niki Lauda has dismissed claims that Mercedes Grand Prix won't be quite as competitive as it needs to be heading to Bahrain for the F1 2010 season opener.
Team boss Ross Brawn said recently that 'his' team is not as well-prepared as he would like and that the Brackley-based outfit hasn't got the car working consistently [see separate story - click here
However, Lauda reckons that Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg
will both be on the pace next weekend: "The claim that Mercedes is struggling and will not be able to drive for victory is an understatement in my opinion," Lauda told espnf1.com
That view is echoed by McLaren's Jenson Button, who said he does 'not completely believe him [Brawn]' and Button's team-mate, Lewis Hamilton.
"I could complain as well and say little lies as they do," Hamilton added in an interview with La Stampa
. "The truth is that there are five or six competitive teams with similar performance at the moment, which is a situation that I have never before seen in F1."
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo meanwhile, just like those at Mercedes, is also playing down expectations that Fernando Alonso
and Felipe Massa
will be the pace setters in the new Ferrari
"We are not the best," Montezemolo told Sky Sports
. "We are among the best [with the likes of Red Bull
and Mercedes]. Last year we finished well behind the others and we are still recovering."