Fernando Alonso says it is too early to rule out Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg from the title fight despite a slow start to the season for the Mercedes drivers.
Rosberg has managed two fifth places while Schumacher finished sixth in Bahrain and 10th in Melbourne last weekend as the Mercedes car has not proved a match to the front-running squads. But championship leader Alonso reckons the German squad and its drivers are likely to bounce back and start fighting on top at any time.
"At the moment, the Mercedes it has maybe not been quick enough compared with the Red Bull or the Ferrari but I keep thinking that Mercedes, or Nico and Michael, will come back very strong at one point of the championship, maybe here, maybe China, maybe Barcelona," said Alonso in Sepang. "The championship is very long so Michael will be always a competitor."
He added: "The McLarens, Red Bulls and Mercedes are our main rivals and only later in the year, will we see which of the eight drivers are in contention for the drivers' championship. After just two races, everybody is still a contender and in the fight, even if currently the Red Bull is probably the quickest and they are the guys to watch at the moment, even if they have not put together the perfect weekend.
"When they do, they could finish a race first and second, so we cannot relax and must keep working to improve the car, especially as I expect McLaren and Mercedes to be more in the fight very soon."
The Ferrari driver, who finished in fourth in Australia despite a spin at the start of the race, insisted it was a great result for him, even if he felt he could have won.
"It was a great show for everybody, a good race to watch and also enjoyable from inside the cockpit," he added. "The car was quick enough for me to be able to overtake, after going to the back of the field and in the end, fourth place was a good reward for the team and I am extremely happy about it.
"Maybe with the spin at the first corner I lost the opportunity to win, but these things happen. It was very good for our championship situation."