Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn believes his outfit have the best driver line-up in Formula 1 in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The Brackley-based team signed Hamilton to replace seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher alongside Rosberg.
Though the car struggled to score points towards the end of last season, Mercedes have shown good pace in testing.
Rosberg set the fastest time of winter testing in Barcelona, with Hamilton clocking the third best.
And Brawn believes Rosberg, who made his debut for Williams in 2006, has stepped up his performances after spending three years as Schumacher’s team-mate.
“If we are honest, Nico proved himself against Michael,” said Brawn. “I think Nico is going to have a fresh benchmark in terms of Lewis and I expect them to be very close.
“I don’t expect a big difference between either of them, but that is to be proven. It is a big challenge for him to have someone as quick and capable as Lewis in the other car.
“Nico has met some massive challenges, ones that he had with Michael, and I expect him to hold his end up very well.
“I actually think we have got the best driver pairing in F1. They will push each other very hard.”
Brawn added that Hamilton has settled in well since joining the team this season.
“When someone of the status of Michael leaves a team, that is a very big hole to fill. But Lewis is filling it perfectly in his own style, he said.
“I don’t want a clone of Michael. I want somebody who does it their own way.
“Lewis has brought a fresh gloss to the team and the way he is working with the engineers. I am delighted with the way it has gone so far.”
Which team do you think has the best driver pairing in Formula 1?
Do you agree with Brawn that it is Hamilton and Rosberg at Mercedes? What about three-time reigning champions Red Bull’s line-up of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber?
Or perhaps Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at Ferrari, the new pairing of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez at McLaren or Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean at Lotus?
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on this story.