Felipe Massa says no team can afford to rule out Red Bull Racing from contention ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, pointing out that their lack of mileage makes it hard to gauge how fast they really are.

The Brazilian, who switches from Ferrari to the Williams Martini Racing team for the 2014 F1 season, has been earmarked as one of the favourites ahead of the 2014 season opener, his Mercedes-powered FW36 having proven quick and reliable in testing.

By contrast, reigning champions Red Bull-Renault have been beset by niggling issues that have restricted its track time and left it comparatively under-prepared heading to Melbourne.

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However, Massa, whilst identifying the factory Mercedes team as the favourites, still cautiously predicts that Red Bull could be fast from the opener, saying there is no doubt that the team will soon be up to speed.

"If you asked me which team is out front, I think it is Mercedes. I think the time to understand who is really in front will be at the end of qualifying when everybody is on the same fuel and new tyres. We'll understand where we are compared to the others.

"There are so many other teams that will be there fighting... McLaren will be there, Ferrari will be there, maybe Red Bull. We don't know much about Red Bull because they were always in the garage, so we cannot forget Red Bull. They know how to build a quick car and be competitive, so when they fix the problems they have they will be there.

"It's too early to say. We could see Red Bull in front or we could see Lotus in front and everyone will be saying different things! Things can change very quickly."