Mark Webber admits he has never encountered such a close pre-season as the winter of 2009, with as many as seven teams in the reckoning to win in Melbourne in less than 20 days.

Mark Webber admits he has never encountered such a close pre-season as the winter of 2009, with as many as seven teams in the reckoning to win in Melbourne in less than 20 days.

"It is really difficult to read who is doing what," the Australian driver said in an interview with Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper.

"I think it is too close to call," the Red Bull driver explained while at home in Britain.

32-year-old Webber said the F1 community expected the sweeping rules changes for this year to leave bigger than usual gaps between teams.

But the opposite is true, according to analysis of recent tests, and Webber reveals that several teams have shown race-winning pace over the crucial 'long runs'.

"It is literally us, Toyota, Williams, Ferrari and BMW. We have all, at certain times, done the business," he explained. "And the Renault as well.

"You would expect McLaren maybe to have done a bit more, going by the testing over the last few years. But apart from that, we all know they are more than capable of turning up in Melbourne and spanking everyone," said Webber.

Webber's young German teammate Sebastian Vettel was the quickest of all in qualifying trim at the Jerez group test last week, and deeper analysis has shown the new Ferrari to have a slight edge with race levels of fuel.

 

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