Mercedes a second faster than the rest, says Button

Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:15am EDT
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Mercedes are about a second a lap quicker than everyone else already, McLaren's Jenson Button said on Friday after rival and former team mate Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Australian Grand Prix practice.

Button, the 2009 Formula One champion, was second and fifth fastest respectively in the day's two sessions but was under no illusions about the real pecking order at the start of the season.

"We're nowhere near the quickest," the Briton told reporters at Albert Park. "We were two seconds off them (Mercedes) in the test, we're over a second off them in the long runs.

"I think everyone is about a second off them in the longer runs. They're very quick," added the Briton, a three-times winner in Melbourne and now with a new team mate in Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen.

"It's a little bit surprising that they are much quicker than everyone else, including the Williams really. The Williams looks a bit of a handful to drive in high speed corners, which is a surprise."

McLaren, the former champions who had an abysmal 2013 season without a single podium finish, have the same power unit as Mercedes, Williams and Force India - the new turbocharged 1.6 liter V6 with energy recovery systems.

Mercedes were overall runners-up in the constructors' standings last year to champions Red Bull.

While Renault have struggled to get their engine running smoothly, Mercedes have looked the pick of the manufacturers in pre-season testing with their teams lapping quicker and more consistently.

Former champions Williams, who scored just five points last year, have been tipped as the team most likely to show a significant improvement this season.   Continued...

McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain drives during the second practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed