The current state of F1's pecking-order will show that the 2009 championship tussle could ultimately be between Brawn and Red Bull.

The current state of F1's pecking-order will show that the 2009 championship tussle could ultimately be between Brawn and Red Bull.

Both teams have recorded dominant one-twos, and shared the victories at the opening trio of races this year.

But neither is willing to accept the tag of favourite as the sport looks ahead to this weekend's contest in Bahrain.

"Our main challengers are going to be Red Bull and Toyota," said championship leader Jenson Button. "Toyota didn't have a good weekend in China but they are going to be strong."

The Brawn driver thinks the field will then close up when the circus returns from its overseas hiatus to Europe, and powerful rivals unfurl the fruits of their furious factory developments.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished comfortably first and second last Sunday in wet China, but team boss Christian Horner is refusing to characterise the development as the start of a championship challenge.

"It is too early to say," he is quoted as saying by the Telegraph. "Don't forget that the sleeping dogs of McLaren and Ferrari are going to wake up soon. You mustn't write them off."

And if weather reports of a fully dry race weekend for Bahrain are correct, Brawn's superiority could return, Red Bull's Webber warns.

Taking into consideration Q3 fuel loads, Brawn's Rubens Barrichello and Button in fact would have dominated qualifying in Shanghai.

"That car is definitely strong and they are the team that is the benchmark for every team to try to close in on," he told the BBC.

 

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