Button and Schumi have set out their stall and have forced me to (slightly) reevaluate my Predictions for the Melbourne GP.
Michael is sounding VERY confident that Mercedes will be in the mix for podiums with, perhaps, a win or two on the cards for the year. He EXPECTS podiums but says he won't be satisfied unless he wins this season. I think my third place prediction may well be justified should his "proverbials" prove to be as big as his talk pre-Melbourne.
Button though is a different matter. I stuck him back in eighth and McLaren are coming to Melbourne with a host of changes, not least to the exhaust system, which they think will gain them around a second a lap. This, should they achieve reliability over the weekend, will bring him back into the mix behind Red Bull. When you add to that his pre-race comments about him expecting to benefit from tyre management in the final stint of the race and you have a driver who expects to finish high in the pecking order.
His McLaren Website Pre-Race chatter is quite bullish in comparison to Lewis's and that in conjunction to his above comments made in an interview to Autosport (http://www.autosport.com/f1/) makes me think he might be in the mix for 4th or 5th given reliable machinery. Revised Prediction 1-8 accordingly reads:
1. Mark Webber to break his duck and win the Aussi GP - Red Bull
2. Alonso - Ferrari
3. Schumi - Mercedes (a years experience + testing)
4. Massa - Ferrari
5. Button - McLaren
6. Rosberg - Mercedes
7. Heidfeld - Renault
8. Barrichello - Williams
Apologies to anyone who decided to place their bets on the basis of my original prediction - who knows how the first race will pan out.