Sebastian Vettel has singled out McLaren as the rival team that he thinks is in the best shape at the start of the second preseason test at Barcelona in Spain.
The two-time World Champion made clear that while it is still too early to divine a pecking order from what had taken place so far in testing, he felt that McLaren appeared to have gotten an early handle on its MP4-27.
"I think McLaren looked very strong today," Vettel told reporters after ending the session fastest of all with a time of 1m23.265s, some 0.3sec quicker than Hamilton managed. "For the rest it is too early.
"I haven't seen all the lap times yet, I have only had a couple of looks on the long runs that Lewis did today – they seemed to be quite interesting. At this stage we are not really talking about the championship. I don't think there is anybody here trying to do worse than last year, so we are trying to do what we did last year, but it's a long way from now."
When asked about whether he had a car to challenge for a third title, he added: "To be honest I haven't seen much of other cars on the track. Obviously, I can judge for myself that the feeling [on my car] is fine but I don't know whether that is good enough or not. I think the McLaren looks quite competitive. I think they didn't go for one lap at all but they did long runs, etc., and they looked fairly competitive, so I think they will be strong straight from the beginning of the season.
"I think we saw in Jerez Lotus was quite a surprise, whether they can keep it up or not, I don't know. Today they didn't run much. Ferrari is a bit of a secret at this stage and nobody knows whether they are really good or really bad – and I don't know what other people think about us, so we will have to wait and see."