In the run up to the start of the 2006 season there has been the usual speculation of who might be at the sharp end of the grid but the general consensus of opinion appears to be "wait and see". It was no different for prospective title rivals...
In the run up to the start of the 2006 season there has been the usual speculation of who might be at the sharp end of the grid but the general consensus of opinion appears to be "wait and see". It was no different for prospective title rivals from three of the front running teams in Thursday's FIA press conference in Bahrain.
Renault, McLaren are Ferrari are among those expected to be in the championship fight this season and world champion Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher obviously want to be battling for the top step of the podium on a regular basis. Is that likely to be the case?
"I wish," said Raikkonen, when they were asked if the three of them were the favourites for the title. "We don't really know exactly. It depends on the cars on what will happen. For sure, everybody of us wants to win championship and everybody does their best."
Alonso agreed with the Finn and Schumacher added: "I think there's more than three because... we spoke about Honda who have two drivers. Also, we all have team-mates so it's got be a nice season for all of us."
The scrutiny on Alonso is high as he prepares to defend his title but he appears calm and doesn't feel that his success of last year will benefit him. "It doesn't matter how motivated you are because as soon as you start the race and the green lights go on, all the drivers do their maximum, their best and sometimes you can do it and sometimes not."
"I think the best thing is that we arrive ready again, the new car is competitive and strong enough to be quick on race pace. I think we are ready for the first race, we'll see what happens on Sunday." So, ready but not about to make any predictions.
And Raikkonen? What is he expecting from 2006? "We just try to do our best that we can this year," the Finn commented. "It will be an interesting year for sure and with all the changes to the rules, the first few races are always more difficult than after that. But let's just wait and see."
Okay, it's the first race and it's hard to judge how the competitors will shape up but could someone perhaps be a little more assertive about their chances? How about a seven-time champion with his wealth of experience in the sport?
"We have worked very hard and we certainly have improved the game, but then it's always the question: have we improved enough?" Schumacher answered one question with another. "It's something we will find out this weekend."
In other words, wait and see…