On the basis of the Mercedes-powered BGP001's performance in Australia, Brawn is the overwhelming favourite to repeat victory at Sepang this weekend.

On the basis of the Mercedes-powered BGP001's performance in Australia, Brawn is the overwhelming favourite to repeat victory at Sepang this weekend.

But the Malaysian event boasts several features that contrast starkly with that of the season opener, and not all of them bode well for the newly-rebranded Brackley based team.

"It's probably going to be wet, isn't it?" said Melbourne winner Jenson Button in Kuala Lumpur, where it has rained already this week.

"That's a pity in a way. I'd rather it was dry because although Rubens and I are both good in the wet, we haven't driven this car in those conditions yet," he added.

Also, the Brawn car does not feature a KERS system, the power-boost technology that is expected to be more of an advantage than at Albert Park on Malaysia's long straights.

The pitstops last Sunday also revealed that the former Honda crew, having sat out most of the winter, is slightly rusty.

Team boss Ross Brawn also admitted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that he is concerned about reliability, with Button and Rubens Barrichello's cars needing to feature the same gearbox this weekend as was raced in Melbourne.

Referring to the transmission, which after the switch from Honda to Mercedes power for 2009 had to be tweaked, he said: "For the moment that is our achilles heel.

"We are not yet over that mountain," he added.

Brawn also spoke about his team's lack of winter pitstop practice.

"During our seven days of testing only twice did we have the opportunity to practice pitstops," he said.

Button is also concerned about the Melbourne pace of the team's rivals, including Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to peg the Briton's pace throughout most of the 58 laps.

"His pace was a surprise," the Englishman admitted.

And Brawn is expecting the other teams, including powerful rivals like Ferrari and McLaren, to make big and rapid steps forward in the next races.

"Right now we've a long way to go and people will progress very rapidly this year," he said, amid premature speculation about the outcome of the world championship.

Brawn said at least three significant development steps for the BGP001 this season are planned, the first to be rolled out for May's Spanish grand prix.

 

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