As an observer from the sidelines for the first time in a decade, Nick Heidfeld has named Red Bull Racing as the overwhelming favourite to set the pace in the curtain-raising F1 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir on Sunday - Red Bull Racing.

Without a seat on the grid this year - after parting company with BMW-Sauber and being overlooked by McLaren-Mercedes and Mercedes Grand Prix despite in-depth discussions with both - Heidfeld subsequently signed up for the latter to act as test and reserve driver, in the hope of re-launching his active career in the top flight in twelve months time.

In the meantime, the experienced German has been taking a keen interest in proceedings from the pit wall, closely following all the twists-and-turns of pre-season testing that seem to suggest there is precious little to choose between anticipated title contenders Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull. In the fierce, equally-matched scrap, though, Heidfeld contends that one of the four is rather more equal than the others...

"The Red Bull is clearly the best car," the 32-year-old told German publication Auto Motor und Sport. "It's almost frightening how easily [Sebastian] Vettel and [Mark] Webber are able to drive it at the limit."

The man from M?nchengladbach - a veteran of some 167 grand prix starts at the highest level - believes that the real inherent raw pace of the Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 has thus far been concealed by a general focus on high-fuel runs.

Back in the Mercedes camp, meanwhile, Heidfeld is reported to have tried out a new front wing for Mercedes' MGP W01 contender at an English airfield earlier this week, in an effort to improve the chances of the car that is currently considered to be marginally the slowest of the front-running quartet. A much-hyped 'super-diffuser' that will debut in Bahrain, however, could soon change that.


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