Sebastian Vettel might have romped to his fourth consecutive Formula One title last year; but with a whole set of new rules coming in and changing the scenario, Vettel and his Red Bull team will head into the unknown just like every other team.
If preseason testing is anything to go by, then Red Bull have a lot of catching up to do to just cross the chequered flag at the opening race of the season in Melbourne -- the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
"Obviously we had a lot of problems during the test so we didn't get to test a lot of stuff and we hope we do some more running here and put the parts to the car that we think are better for overall performance," the German world champion said. "It will be a bit different, but I think it's the same for all of us.
"We know that we're not in the best shape yet. There are a lot of things we need to solve. Unfortunately, you can't solve them overnight. We'd love to but we can't. So you really have to go step by step, together with [new teammate] Daniel [Ricciardo], I think just trying to be as precise as we can, trying to give the engineers the best feedback possible about the whole power unit so that we move forward on that, and also talking about the car because at this stage it's a bit unknown where we are. It's not a secret: you need very, very strong reliability to be a title contender, so we'll see."
It will take a while to just get used to all the driver changes, for instance seeing Felipe Massa a car that is not red in colour -- Massa's new team Williams were one of the more impressive cars during testing - while Vettel will not have Mark Webber alongside him with a lot younger and greener Ricciardo set to keep him on his toes instead.
At the end of the day, however, it will be the usual suspects that will challenge for the drivers' championship title - Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, if the McLaren can find a way to be competitive.
It will be interesting to see just how Alonso gets along with new Ferrari teammate Raikkonen, with the former showing the Ferrari might not be so bad to start with after all, finishing at the top of the timesheets after the first practise session.
"I think it's very difficult to tell how competitive we are at the moment," Alonso said. "We'll get some answers in 24 hours or 48 hours, we will know a little bit more than we know now. The car itself and the technology that Formula One brought this year are a little bit complex to everyone.
"We are learning and we are developing the car every day that we work on it. As I said, a little bit of an unknown situation for everybody. We just need to put everything together, maximise what we have, and see where we are."
Mercedes looked like the best team during testing, and Hamilton, who finished fastest in the second practise session on Friday, and Nico Rosberg will want to get their season up and running by finishing on the podium at the Australian GP.
"It's very technical this year and we're all in the same boat," Hamilton said. "We're always trying to find where the advantages can be between two drivers. From race to race I think you'll see... one race he'll be ahead, one time I'll be ahead, same as you saw last year. Obviously the goal is to be ahead all the time."
Formula One: Australian GP Live TV Information (Practice 3 starts 2 pm local time. Qualifying starts 5 pm local time, 6 am GMT, 11.30 am IST, 2 am ET):
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD2|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
Formula One: Australian GP Online Live Streaming Information (Practice 3 starts 2 pm local time. Qualifying starts 5 pm local time, 6 am GMT, 11.30 am IST, 2 am ET):
|UK||HERE or HERE or HERE|
|Germany and Italy||HERE or HERE|