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Merlin, surely you're not so naive. Of course Lauda is going to be optimistic. He's hardly going to admit the car's a bit of a dog is he?
In all honesty I think the Merc will be around the Saubers and Force Indias, though Hamilton and Rosberg should shake off the challenge of Gutierrez, Di Resta and whoever FI hires. Hulkenberg may be a thorn in their sides however.
I just don't see the team being up there. And if the rear tyres are getting cooked early again, Hamilton will seriously struggle, quite the opposite of what most expect to see. Don't forget he may have teething troubles with the new car. Having seen the adjusted times on the beeb website, apparently Hamilton is rather far away from Rosberg (estimated ofc)