Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren's long-run pace during last week's testing at Barcelona puts the team in a strong position heading to Bahrain. The 2008 World Champion did the quickest time of the test on the final day, but was most encouraged by the performance of the MP4-25 with a high fuel load.
"On the first day of testing, it wasn't particularly impressive," Hamilton said of McLaren's long run pace. "We weren't fast enough compared to the Ferraris. But on the last day, we made some improvements to the car. On the long runs, if you look at the times, I did a race distance so you can guess what fuel load I was on and the balance of the car and the times I did were very competitive -- probably the most competitive of the day, so that was a big boost of confidence for me."
Hamilton, however, believes Ferrari and Mercedes also showed well and suspects Ferrari will be McLaren's biggest rival this year.
"I think the Mercedes was very competitive over its long runs and so was the Ferrari. [But] when you go to another circuit it's really about how we use the tires, and the temperatures. We have to manage these in the best way we can.
"I think the biggest rivals, team-wise are Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Sauber and Force India. For me, these look like the most competitive teams.
"In terms of the drivers, you've got Felipe [Massa], Fernando [Alonso], Jenson [Button], probably [Sebastian] Vettel and Mark Webber, because obviously they've got a quick car, Michael [Schumacher] and Nico [Rosberg].
"It's really difficult to say who is the most competitive out of all of them, but at the moment the Ferrari looks the fastest, I think."