Mercedes have set the pace in pre-season testing, but choosing between Hamilton and Rosberg is proving tougher
MercedesLewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg

When Toto Wolff was asked about how he felt about Mercedes' pre-season preparations had gone, his response that he prefers to take a 'glass half empty' approach was kidding precisely no-one. The fact he actually said 'glass half full' initially, before correcting himself, seemed a rather appropriate Freudian slip...

Indeed, though you couldn't accuse Wolff of outward arrogance on Mercedes' behalf, he and the team can certainly afford to go to Australia feeling rather smug about its chances and, frankly, we probably wouldn't blame them for it.

With the W05 proving such a dominant package in 2014, only an evolution was ever required to bring the sleek and svelte W06 up to scratch. Even if rival teams had made a bigger step forward individually, Mercedes had plenty in hand to keep it ahead of the game overall. As it happens, Mercedes seems to have - at worst - maintained its advantage, but rivals seem to think the margin is actually bigger than that...

Fortunately, things remain fairly evenly matched between Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg, with opinions in the paddock split over whether Hamilton's title win in 2014 will spur him on to greater in 2015 or motivate Rosberg more to beat him.

Sadly, Mercedes is unlikely to allow a repeat of last year's feuds, fall-outs and fracas, with both drivers routinely brushing off questions about their relationship with rehearsed precision during testing. Racing might bring down the red mist, but Mercedes is unlikely set to let it settle this time... in short, they can still race each other (which is just as well as no-one appears capable of matching them at the moment), but a behind-the-scenes clarification of dos and don'ts is likely.

Obviously, it is far too early to dismiss a season as a walkover for Mercedes, but while Toto Wolff can see that glass as half empty, his rivals are seeing it bubbling over...

In conclusion... Thankfully the drivers are evenly matched because the Mercedes W06 is certainly the car to beat

Red Bull hasn't given too much away in pre-season testing, but its expected pace is being negated by reliability worries
Red Bull RacingDaniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat

Red Bull heads into 2015 having kept its cards fairly close to its chest, its decision to give its RB11 a distorting zebra camouflage livery partly down to wanting to give little away as much as it was a marketing tool.

Of course, there is only so much disguising you can do to something in plain sight, but Red Bull has also created some mystery with its alternative winter programme dedicated to longer runs and fewer headline laps, though this seems partly down to demands placed on it by engine supplier Renault as it desperately attempts to make amends from a nadir of a 2014 season.

Indeed, Red Bull heads into 2015 still with a lingering Renault-induced hangover from 2014, the firm rather modestly claiming its goal pre-season is to halve the deficit to Mercedes in terms of power, whilst attempting to improve its inferior reliability.

As complicated a task as that inevitably is for Renault, as supplier to the second best team in F1 last season, halving a deficit to its main rival doesn't suggest a winning mentality even before you consider Cyril Abiteboul has been quoted as saying it is only expecting two or three wins in 2015.

As such, Red Bull must make up the rest of the deficit with its RB11 chassis, a challenge it can absolutely rise to based on previous form and particularly when it is placed in the hands of Daniel Ricciardo, who 'honey badgered' his way to three wins last year with an enthralling combination of fortune, skill and sheer doggedness.

It is that form that has earmarked Ricciardo as the driver to watch in Melbourne - regardless of him being on home soil - as there is arguably most to come from him when action gets underway.

As for new signing Daniil Kvyat, the Russian has suffered the lion's share of the bad luck - some innocent, some self-inflicted - and is also difficult to pin-point on the grid. A podium challenge at this stage is probably over-ambitious but, ahead of only his second season in F1, Red Bull is prepared to give him some time to find his feet.

In conclusion... Certainly amongst the 'best of the rest' in the fight for the podium and arguably the team with the most still in hand, while Daniel Ricciardo on home soil will only bring out the very best in him.

Williams appear quick and reliable, building on its strong form from 2014
Williams Martini RacingValtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa

Resplendent in a Martini-emblazoned livery that harked back to the 'good old days' of F1, similarly Williams evoked memories of former glories in 2014 with one of the most comprehensive turnarounds experienced by any team in F1.

With its tidy chassis, quick engine and accomplished driver line-up, Williams began 2014 as a revelation and ended it as arguably the closest thing to a consistent rival for Mercedes.

Unsurprisingly, Williams hasn't tinkered with the formula too much for 2015, retaining Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa as drivers, getting use of the superior Mercedes power plant and focusing its efforts on overcoming some of the shortcomings of its otherwise impressive chassis.

Pre-season testing has seen Williams flit between headline-grabbing lap times and adopting a methodical approach to development that was as private as it could be in a public environment.

Those headline-grabbing times, which saw both Bottas and Massa show what the car was capable of on super-soft tyres have earmarked it as probably the team most likely to be filing row two behind Mercedes in Melbourne, but things look a touch tighter over a race distance between itself, Ferrari and Red Bull.

That said, Williams is still adding to the FW37 and plans to keep updating the car right up until the first race, so there is potentially more to come from the package. Then again, given the team stopped and began heading for home a good 90mins before the end of the final day of testing, there is certainly an underlying sense of confidence.

In conclusion... Arguably 'the best of the rest' behind Mercedes in terms of pace, whilst its reliability has been superior throughout winter testing.

Ferrari turned heads initially during testing, but the team has been playing down its form
FerrariSebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen

Playing itself down or hiding something up its sleeve? Ferrari's pre-season has turned a few rivals' heads, though the sounds from the team itself are rather more modest. After grabbing a few headlines in Jerez, Ferrari's form wasn't quite so noticeable during the business end of testing, but - as almost every team pointed out - it remains hard to tell.

New team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has made his mark by being instantly 'quoteable' in his view of the regulations and his vision for the sport, though his fairly low key aim for a couple of wins in 2015 remains somewhat at odds with his outspoken views.

Much has been said about the new harmony in the team - translated: Sebastian Vettel is better liked than the more 'difficult' Fernando Alonso - and given Ferrari races from the heart, as much as the head -, the German's meticulous, perfection-seeking attitude has seen him settle in well. Arrivabene has already said a 'sexy car is a fast car', but in reality he should be saying 'a happy team is a fast team'.

Similarly, Kimi Raikkonen has been - shock - 'smiling', which alone is indicative of the buoyant attitude emanating from Maranello at the moment... whether that brings it a few more tenths or not remains to be seen.

In conclusion: Raikkonen aside, it's all change at Ferrari and the early signs are promising, even if it is hard to tell if those modest expectations are genuine or wrong-footing