One school of thought is that in view of his super-smooth, easy-on-the-tyres driving style – in stark contrast to the more balls-out aggression of team-mate Lewis Hamilton
– the momentum could swing firmly in favour of Jenson Button
inside the McLaren-Mercedes garage in F1 2011, but Davidson insists that right now, it's pretty much impossible to accurately predict anything.
“The tyres are the biggest factor,” acknowledged the 31-year-old Brit. “It's going to be up to everybody to master the Pirellis this year, and it's going to be interesting to watch how it actually unfolds with tyre-wear and the different compounds of tyres round the different tracks we go to.
“I think Pirelli have been a lot braver in their choice of compounds and tyre structures than Bridgestone were, so we're going to see drivers and teams struggling a lot more, I think, than what we saw last year in trying to keep them alive. Qualifying is one thing, but the race and the degradation on those tyres is a totally different ballgame this year.
“On the Bridgestones last year, in that particular car, in that particular season, Lewis seemed to have the upper hand [over Button] in qualifying. It's completely different this year, and we've just got to go into it with an open mind. The balance can easily change in one of these cars with the tyres – they dominate balance and grip – and that can sometimes suit one driver's style more than another's.
“If the balance were to suit Jenson's style a bit more – he depends a lot on the front end to be there, especially in qualifying, and he's very good at feeling the edge of a tyre and the slip-angle drop-off – there's no reason why he can't be quicker than Lewis, but Lewis is very good at adapting himself to lots of different situations. It's going to be fascinating to see which drivers react better or worse with these tyres.”
The F1 2011 World Championship campaign will rev into life with the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix
at Sakhir on 13 March. The BBC
will broadcast all of the action both on and off-track season-long via comprehensive coverage across TV, HD, radio, online, red button and mobile.